Melbourne: Retired Australian batting great Michael Clarke on Wednesday announced that he has signed with Kowloon Cantons for the two-day Hong Kong T20 Blitz cricket tournament running over May 28-29.
Since retiring from international cricket after Australia surrendered the Ashes last August, the former captain has played only one competitive match for his local club side Western Sydney in late February.
The 35-year-old has expressed an interest in returning to cricket through the T20 format, and the Hong Kong T20 Blitz is set to be the first step down that path.
“I am really excited to be playing with the Kowloon Cantons in the upcoming T20 tournament,” Clarke was quoted as saying by News Limited.
“I can’t wait to meet my teammates and experience the city, while also hopefully contributing to the game of cricket in Hong Kong which I know has been coming on leaps and bounds in recent years.”
Hong Kong Cricket Association chief executive Tim Cutler says Clarke’s signature is a huge coup for the tournament.
“To summarise Michael’s credentials is impossible, he is simply one of the best cricketers of this generation, if not ever,” Cutler said.
“Hong Kong cricket has delivered many firsts recently, however to have a recent Test Captain who oversaw a famous Ashes whitewash, the 2015 World Cup victory and who sat atop the world batting rankings a number of times is just incredible.
“Not only does this vindicate the effort in putting the tournament together, it also shows the growth of cricket in East Asia.
“With over 80,000 participants in China there is immense potential in East Asia. With rugby and soccer both making strategic plays into the nascent Chinese sporting market we look forward to working with the ICC and ACC in growing cricket throughout the region.”
It’s been four years since Clarke last played a T20 fixture, representing defunct Indian Premier League franchise Pune Warriors India in May 2012.
The veteran of 115 Tests, with 8,643 runs, had signed a two-year-deal with KFC Big Bash League club Melbourne Stars in April last year, but that has since been terminated after Clarke pulled out of BBL|05 to take some time off post-retirement.
Clarke will head to Hong Kong on Friday to link up with his new side ahead of their match against Hung Hom JD Jaguars on May 28.
Clarke also has 7,981 runs from 245 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and he was also a part of the 2007 World Cup winning team.