Imagine a country that has more players playing cricket than in Australia. Imagine a country where cricket surely is one of the most popular sports, and perhaps, is the sport where the national team has performed best internationally. Well, with 50000 youngsters playing the sport, it is Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Now the question that comes to the minds of many readers is – Where is PNG? It’s a small country, situated north of Australia and east of Indonesia. It is a country which speaks over 1000 Languages and has very little common across various tribes. Most of its citizens live in rural areas, with Port Morbesy being the only major city.
Cricket was introduced to PNG by the missionaries when it was under British Rule, alike many other countries. It found a huge following among the various tribes. Till this day, a form of cricket known as Trobiand Cricket, played by many tribes is the most popular sport in the country.
|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 also 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 in the capital where the game has started to pick up. And most recognizably in the village of Hanuabada, a village located on the outskirts of Port Moresby.
Cricket is so popular in the Hanuabada that every afternoon, the streets are flooded with boys playing cricket. 9 of the 11 members of present PNG cricket 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 roots of the game so strong, PNG Cricket Board started efforts to take cricket to other areas of the country. They started to organize cricket tournaments across the tribes to tap the natural talent there. The board also started various initiatives, for example, 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 to raise the profile of the game. The board also ensured 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|
Over the years, these efforts to take the game of cricket to kids and across the nation have produced great results. By 2010, we have over 50000 people playing the game in PNG. Its the same PNG which finished a low 11th in 1995 ICC Trophy and is probably one of the lowest ranked teams.
PNG have improved their performance year after year. Finally in 2011, they produced their best ever performance when finished 3rd in World Cricket League division 2 and hence qualified for the World Cup qualifiers. This also meant that they improved their ICC ranking to 19. They further improved and showcased an even better performance, and finished 8th in the tournament out of 16 teams. They finished 4th in the group and missed qualification to next round by a whisker.
|PNG team hold great promise. We might see them challenging the big boys soon|
Cricket, certainly holds a great future in this country and a little more exposure would really help the country break into the biggest league. The future looks bright and let’s hope, we get to see them play World Cup 2015 in their continent.
More similar articles on Associate Cricket can be found at http://jashan-celebrating-life.blogspot.in/