Saturday, 2 June 2012

Rise of PNG Cricket

Imagine a country that has more players playing cricket than they do in Australia. Imagine a country where cricket surely is one of the most popular sports and perhaps cricket is the sport where the national team has given the best performance internationally. The country looks like a Test Nations and perhaps the name that could strike may be New Zealand, Zimbabwe or may be upcoming countries like Kenya or Ireland. Well with 50000 youngsters playing the country, it is PNG or Papua New Guinea

Now the question that comes into the mind of many readers is that where is PNG. PNG is a small country that is North of Australia and East of Indonesia. It is a country which has over 1000 Languages and little common across various tribes. The only major city in the country is Port Morbesy while rest of the population lives rural

Cricket like at most places was introduced to PNG by the missionaries when it was under British Rule.It was really picked up by the various tribes. It is to till this day a form of cricket known as  Trobiand Cricket which is played by many tribes and is the most popular sport game.

Trobiand Cricket: The form of Cricket picked by Tribal's when it was introduced by missionaries. It is the most popular game of tribals.
Besides the tribes the game was popular amongst the various expats from Australia and Britain in the capital Port Morbesy. A team of 9 Expats and 2 Indigenous players became the first official team of PNG that played against Australia in 1972.

It is the capital where the game started to pick up. The game started to pick up in the capital, most recognizably the village of Hanuabada, a village is located on the outer suburbs of Port Moresby.

Cricket is so popular in the village of Hanuabada that everyday afternoon the streets are flooded with boys playing cricket. 9 out of the 11 members of present team come from this village

Children can be seen playing cricket every afternoon in the village of Hanuabada, just outside the capital Port Morbesy, PNG
With the cricket roots so strong PNG Cricket Board started it's efforts to take Cricket to other areas of PNG. They started to organize the cricket across the tribes to tap the natural talent there. The board also started various initiatives Liklik Kricket to take cricket to kids around the capital.

The board then collaborated with sponsors to form initiatives like BSP Cricket to take cricket to kids, Dulux "don't drink and drive" and various other efforts has raised the profile of the game. The board also ensure that they got more schools and colleges into the game so that talent keeps pouring in

Initiatives like the tie up with BSP have been really successful in PNG
It was over the years of these efforts to take the game of cricket to kids and across the nations produced great results. By 2010 we have over 50000 people playing the game in PNG. PNG which finished a low 11th in 1995 ICC Trophy and probably one of the lower ranked teams.

The team improved performance year after year. Finally in 2011 they reached their best ever performance when got a rank 3 in World Cricket League division 2 and hence qualified for World Cup qualifiers. This also meant that they improved the ICC ranking to 19. They further improved and gave even a better performance and finished 8th in the tournament out of 16 teams. They finished 4th in the group and just missed qualification to next round

PNG team hold great promise. We might see them challenging the big boys soon

Cricket hold great future in the country and more exposure perhaps someday making it into the Inter Continental Cup would really help break the country in the biggest league. The future looks bright and let's hope we get to see them play 2015 which is being help right in their continent.