"Flying is my number one priority", says Hong Kong's Christopher Carter
Hong Kong's wicketkeeper-batsman Christopher Carter recently created a buzz in the cricketing world after announcing his retirement from all forms of the game. The 21-year-old called time on a fledgeling international career as he wanted to pursue his passion of becoming a pilot.
Carter played 11 ODIs and 10 T20Is for Hong Kong, his last assignment was the Asia Cup 2018. His final game was against India and whether Hong Kong's inability to fulfil the criteria for ODI status was one of the reasons that prompted Carter's retirement is a question that many are still wondering about.
Sportskeeda caught up with the 21-year-old to find out about his mindset and to explore more about cricket in Hong Kong.
Speaking about how he got into the game of cricket, Carter recalls: "As a child, anyone that plays cricket as a sport wants to play it professionally, growing up in Perth, I always had that dream, maybe one day I will don the Baggy gold and play for my country. Towards the end of my school career, in life in Perth, my dreams started to fade and I started to think more about academics, university and I tried to make my way in the airline industry.
"At first I didn't think it would come this soon, I was gonna do university and then maybe look at it after that but given the last three years I think its the right time to roll out of school but yeah my career as a cricketer came on the field and it wasn't something I expected to do, if you asked me four years ago what I will be doing I won't say playing professional cricket for Hong Kong. I started for fun with Kowloon Cricket Club", he added.
When asked about the decision of the retirement, Carter said,
"It wasn't a tough decision, its always been in the back of my mind, I hate to use the term retiring because this is not exactly like I've had a long illustrious career. If the opportunity arises in the future I would definitely make myself available. But flying, its my number 1 priority and I want to be considered as a professional pilot from now on. I am happy about it, obviously the life of a touring cricketer is good fun, you get to see the world with some of your best mates and I'll be further thankful for that but I knew it would come to an end, I tried to save every moment of it and I think I did but yeah its time to move on for me.
The 21-year-old did not rule out the possibility of an international return, ''At this point in time my sole priority is on my future flying career and becoming a professional pilot. It’s something I’ve worked very hard for, and it will provide me with my dream career going into the future. If the opportunity arises outside of working hours, and I feel it won’t negatively impact my job, then yes I’ll make myself available for selection".
The players in Hong Kong are getting more exposure now with the Hong Kong T20 Blitz and the Hong Kong Sixes, in a recent interview with Sportskeeda, skipper Anshuman Rath and opener Nizakat Khan talked about the improvement in Hong Kong's cricket structure.
''It is nowhere near at its peak but the direction is certainly going in the right way.", said, Rath, while talking to Sportskeeda before the Asia Cup.
Carter believes that it's very hard for the players to work and play simultaneously, a lot of players from associate nations have to manage their job and cricket at the same time. This creates a lot of trouble for them as some of them don't get enough time to train.
Till 1998, most Sri Lankan players were working and playing at the same time. Now, with the increasing popularity of cricket, only players from associate nations have to manage their job and cricket simultaneously.
''It is very tough for most players to live and play in Hong Kong full time, particularly those with families. Coaching seems to be the best side job to have, as hours are a lot more flexible and allow the player to work it around their training schedule.
Office jobs are a lot more difficult to hold down on a full-time cricket contract, because of the unusual hours of training - obviously many employers prefer an employee to be at work during designated hours, just like everyone else, but a CHK player is unable to do so. Scott McKenchnie is someone who has a very good job as head coach at KCC, but he too still had to take unpaid leave to represent his country and is unable to tour to PNG because of the same reason. Having to work two jobs also creates a lot of mental stress and fatigue, and added to the touring schedule, results in a lot of time away from family and loved ones''.