Sri Lanka topple All Stars at Hong Kong Sixes

An All Stars team containing some of the greatest names in world cricket was beaten in the final of the Hong Kong Sixes on Sunday by a team of little-known Sri Lankans.

Over two days of carnival cricket, the All Stars—featuring captain Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Glenn McGrath and Anil Kumble—had produced explosive cricket in the tournament’s unique five-overs-an-innings format.

But their run of success came to end when the young Sri Lankans refused to be intimidated and posted 127-3 after five eight-ball overs, a total that proved too much for their illustrious opponents, who made 111 to lose by 16 runs.

Also in the All Stars squad were Zimbabwe’s Heath Streak, England’s Geraint Jones and Craig McMillan of New Zealand, who won the man of the tournament award for his brutal batting, though he went for a golden duck in the final.

Sri Lanka’s surprise star was captain Indika De Saram who, under the Sixes’ quirky rules, scored 40 in the final after returning to the wicket having earlier retired not out for 32.

Kaushalya Weeraratne (32) and Jeewantha Kulatunga (28) also helped carry the side to its first-ever Hong Kong Sixes victory, which brought with it a winners’ cheque of $100 000.

In the All Stars’ final innings, Test cricket’s top scorer Brian Lara reminded the crowd of his glory days with four sixes lofted over the hospitality marquees.

Geraint Jones, currently out of favour for the England wicketkeeper role, was a late call-up but his fielding caught the eye and in the final he scored three huge sixes off his first three balls.

Former Australian strike bowler Glenn McGrath was on the subs bench for the title-decider after dislocating a finger while fielding earlier in the day.

The weekend saw nine national teams compete against the All Stars in 21 matches that lasted less than 45 minutes each.

With the game’s big hitters letting loose at the tiny Kowloon Cricket Club, 275 sixes were scored and at least 40 balls were lost.

England, who fielded Twenty20 specialist Darren Maddy and rising star Luke Wright, fell in the quarterfinals.

India had earlier crashed out at the qualifying stage to the disappointment of their vocal supporters and the Sixes’ organisers, who are keen to boost the event’s TV audience in the massive south Asia market.

New Zealand and Pakistan were the losing semifinalists.

Shane Warne said he had enjoying playing alongside some old friends and rivals.

“This has been my first Sixes and it has been a great couple of days. After we won the first few games, we really wanted to win the whole thing.

“Watching Brian [Lara] out there brings back some bad memories of bowling to him,” he joked.

“Glenn [McGrath] is obviously an old mate and Anil Kumble I have total respect for. We talk a lot about leg-breaks.”

The tournament, first held in 1992, produces frenetic cricket in which six-a-side teams bat for only five overs each and every fielder has to bowl, apart from the wicketkeeper.

Up until the final the overs are six balls each.

It has a long record of attracting the game’s greatest names, with Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar and Andrew Flintoff all appearing in past years.—AFP