Published on March 4th, 2018 | by Sandipan Banerjee0
From Hong Kong to New Zealand dressing room: The Mark Chapman story
“Purely judging by talent, Chapman seems to tick the right boxes to be an ideal white-ball cricketer who can make it big at the international level. With Hong Kong, he has had a fair bit of exposure and experience as well”.
Mark Chapman was just 19 when he faced a rioting Chittagong crowd, upset with the defeat of the home team in a World T20 fixture against Hong Kong. In fact, he and his teammates were close to requiring a helicopter evacuation from the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. It was Chapman’s first-ever major international tournament and of course the most memorable one, till date.
Chapman is arguably the finest batsman produced from the annals of Hong Kong cricket. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he played all his age-group cricket over there. However, he attended boarding school in Auckland from the age of 13 and when the Auckland Aces signed him a couple of seasons back, Chapman qualified to play as a local player as his father is from New Zealand.
The hard-hitting middle-order left-hander represented ICC Associate nation in two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 19 Twenty20 Internationals including the last two World T20s before shifting to New Zealand and making a winning debut in Blackcaps colours in the recent Trans-Tasmanian T20 tri-series against England in Wellington last month.
Soon, in the 50-over format, he got a call-up in the ongoing five-match series against the Englishmen. Though his first few ODIs for the Kiwis haven’t been fruitful enough, but while making his debut in this format representing Hong Kong, Chapman scored a fine 124 in Dubai against the United Arab Emirates.
Known for his attacking batsmanship, Chapman is one of those typical modern-day batsmen, who likes to take the attack to the opposition, early in the game. At any moment of his innings, the southpaw can surprise the bowler by playing those unorthodox scoops and reverse-sweeps. There is a fair bit of daring in his stroke-play as he looks to dispatch the ball 360 degrees — something similar to what Eoin Morgan does.
”I definitely try and play an aggressive and attacking brand of cricket,” in a recent interaction with the media, Chapman revealed his gameplan. “The nature of smaller grounds [in New Zealand] and flat pitches is a by-product of that, but I enjoy going out and trying to put my skills on show, but mix that with a bit of game smarts too.”
Following the ICC World T20 in 2016 in India, the youngster decided to make a move from Hong Kong to New Zealand. He was studying mechanical engineering at the Auckland University when the Aces deal was finalised. Since then he has been a regular feature in all three formats for Auckland in New Zealand domestic cricket.
Recently, Chapman was left out of the 15-man Hong Kong squad for the ongoing ICC World Cup qualifiers, after he made himself unavailable for selection due to his commitments with the Aces.
In the domestic T20s this season, Chapman made 307 runs at 34.11 with a strike rate of 171.5, including a 58-ball ton against Canterbury on New Year’s Day. He has averaged 86.6 in the 50-over Ford Trophy, with the leading aggregate of 433 runs and two centuries, both against Wellington. Thanks to his strong performance in domestic white-ball cricket, the left-hander was knocking at the door for a New Zealand call up for quite some time. In fact, he was unfortunate to miss out a spot in the Blackcaps squad, during the Pakistan series earlier.
Eventually, the opportunity came in the Trans Tasmanian T20 series.
When he played his first-ever game at his home ground in Auckland against Australia, his parents, sister, aunt, uncle and a lot of others admirers were present in the stands. Naturally, he was nervous. But thanks to his experience with Hong Kong, Chapman, knows how to deal with such situations.
”The pressure they [Associates] play under is immense and it stood me in good stead coming into this level,” he said. ”For sure, I definitely feel my experience with Hong Kong has been invaluable.”
Purely judging by talent, Chapman seems to tick the right boxes to be an ideal white-ball cricketer who can make it big at the international level. He has had a fair bit of exposure and experience as well. Now with a little more added temperament, this boy can be the impact player New Zealand cricket is looking for since the retirement of Brendan McCullum.