An Australian indigenous cricket team will tour Vanuatu while a deal has been made to help the Papua New Guinean men’s and women’s team.
Cricket’s governing body has announced that Cricket Australia struck a partnership with the government to help the development of the game in the neighbouring Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
The announcement brings cricket into the PacificAus Sports programme, an Australian Government sports diplomacy initiative in the region already involving the Olympic movement, rugby league, rugby union, football and netball.
This is the same sports programme that has allowed the involvement of Pacific rugby teams in Super Rugby, while recently top Australian netball teams have toured Fiji.
The aim of the programme is also to increase participation of females in the sport.
The Australia-Pacific Cricket Linkages project will allow Papua New Guinea men’s and women’s teams to play in competitions in Australia and offer coaching and training support.
Australian indigenous teams will tour Vanuatu and engage with the community with a particular goal of getting more girls to take up cricket.
“We are very excited to be part of PacificAus Sports and play a role in the development of cricket in PNG and Vanuatu, from the elite level through to community participation,” Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said.
“We also look forward to delivering benefits off the field, including gender equality outcomes throughout the sport.”
Papua New Guinea’s men, the Burras, are rated 20th in the International Cricket Council one-day international world rankings and 19th in Twenty20 cricket after qualifying for last year’s World Cup.
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The women, the Lewas, are 15th in the world in the shortest format. Vanuatu rank 30th in the women’s Twenty20 rankings, while the men are 47th in the world behind Romania and just in front of Norway.
Vanuatu and PNG use cricket as a tool for community engagement with children and women. In some Pacific nations, cricket is being used to keep the elderly active as well.
The PacificAus programme also operates in Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa.