Hong Kong (March 27, 2023) – The FairBreak Invitational 2023 kicks off on April 3rd in Hong Kong, and two home bred stars Ruchi Venkatesh and Mariko Hill, are thrilled at the opportunity of playing at home, before local fans. Both players featured in the inaugural edition in Dubai in 2022 and reflect on their learnings in the past year.

A former captain of Hong Kong, Mariko Hill’s career statistics include 623 runs and 21 wickets in 33 WT20Is. In the 2022 Dubai Invitational Hill featured in six matches for the Falcons and took a wicket and scored 69 runs. Looking ahead to Hong Kong Hill said: “I am definitely looking forward to playing at home, in front of family and friends and of course.”

“We have got the (WhatsApp)group of the Falcons team going still, and we chat on a weekly basis. I do keep in touch with Marina Lamplough and Danni Wyatt the most.”

Hill spoke about what the 2022 experience taught her and how it added value to her career: “(Top learning from 2022) Was playing with freedom. Jo (Head coach -Joanne Broadbent) was a big advocate of having no fear when you come out especially as an Associate cricketer, and you try and compare yourself to some degree. Playing with freedom and playing to your strengths are the two things I learnt.

“My game picked up ever since FairBreak, going to Malaysia for the World Cup Qualifiers, and the Asia Cup, where my approach to the game and batting changed. I played with more freedom, and there was a sense of team unity, which came from what you do outside the cricket field.

“FairBreak played a large role (in my being picked for the Northern Diamonds). It is about getting your name out there. The coach of Northern Diamonds picked me based on previous performances, and I am sure the FairBreak event had a positive influence in this process. Having media coverage also allows us to be seen and heard, because if no one knows about you, you are not going to get opportunities.”

FairBreak Global announced a US tournament scheduled for later this year, and Hill believes this means the movement will expand to new territories and give it greater momentum: “(the US tour means) More growth, and the more we go out there, the more the names get around and the more opportunities we get. Being a part of the US set up is huge, because we know there is a lot of investment being put into US cricket now and if we can grow it in all different continents, just imagine where women’s cricket can go.”

With a host of successful women’s tournaments emerging around the globe, Hill said she felt FairBreak was unique in its focus on `associate players like herself: “FairBreak is a stand-alone tournament. It is all about opportunities for Associate players, and more than four players can play in each team, which allows the growth of the game internationally and in Associate countries. FairBreak is all about empowering women, and it is providing equal opportunities in the sports realm and the business realm.”

 Ruchi Venkatesh, also a member of the Hong Kong team, is an off-spin bowler, who has featured in 25 WT20Is, with 13 wickets and 99 runs in her account. She played three games for the Barmy Army in Dubai.

Venkatesh joined the FairBreak family during her years as a student and she said: “My association with FairBreak began when I was invited to play in a FairBreak tournament in England, when I was studying there. It was an honour playing alongside and being captained by Sana Mir and Alex Blackwell. Following that tour I was fortunate enough to be invited to other tours, including the FairBreak Invitational.”

Ruchi Venkatesh, Barmy Army, on playing for her country: “Playing in my home country before our own fans is very special for me. I hope it inspires many young girls from all ethnicities to take up the sport.

Ruchi Venkatesh, Barmy Army on key lessons learnt from her FairBreak experience: “What I learnt about cricket the most is the resilience. It isn’t just about the highs but handling the lows. FairBreak 2022 taught me professionalism, observing how my teammates went about their training, their preparation on game days, their intent during fielding, which I really wanted to emulate. I tried to bring all that into every game I played. I tried to bring in that professionalism, training intensity and preparation intensity into my game.

“I had a bit of an up and down in 2022 but it ended on a high, including helping my team win the Vitality Club Championship, and being the bowler of the finals there. I also had a successful season in the UK. A personal highlight was taking 8-15 after 12 overs, and it culminated in a successful Japan tour for the Hong Kong team, where we had a clean sweep and won the East Asia Cup.

The FairBreak UK tour really helped us hone our white ball skills. I hope FairBreak can do this for many more girls. As an Associate player you don’t normally get these opportunities to play at a high level, and to hone our skills, so what FairBreak is doing is amazing, especially for Associate players.

Ruchi Venkatesh, Barmy Army, on how she sees the future of the FairBreak movement: “I would love to see many more girls get these opportunities. It will be nice to see girls from a range of countries from Asia, Africa, the Pacific, (playing the game). The US is rapidly becoming a major hub for cricket and for FairBreak to be holding a tournament in the US is really very exciting and `I am looking forward to it, even if I don’t play, I will be excited to watch and see the other girls in action, and I just hope FairBreak keeps growing.”

Ruchi Venkatesh on what sets FairBreak Invitational apart from other women’s leagues around the globe: “FairBreak is special is because of the opportunity it gives to players from Associate countries. Associate cricket is really an untapped market and there is a lot of talent there that is often ignored. By exposing these players, it really widens the horizons for cricket and challenges the notions of which countries can play cricket, and who can play cricket. You can see how over the years countries like Thailand are emerging and UAE, China, and many more countries are now playing cricket, and FairBreak is really opening the world’s eyes. I hope that many more leagues recognize the Associate players and give us a chance.