Cricket in the Pacific
A girl plays cricket in Papua New Guinea.? Photo: Courtesy of ICC
IN Papua New Guinea, driving schools use the cricket ovals for training. In Vanuatu the field is littered with dangerous crab holes and in Fiji it rains 270 days a year.
But those challenges have not stopped cricket becoming one of the top participation sports in the Pacific.
The stories of the development of the summer game in the region have been chronicled in a book, Oceans of Cricket, by veteran journalist Barrie Cassidy and his son Adam, who travels throughout the Pacific region promoting the game for the International Cricket Council.
''I started coming home and telling dad all these stories and we had some great photographers travelling with us at times, so in the end we decided it would be a good idea to write a book,'' Adam said.
Barrie did the historical research, while Adam told the people stories.
''PNG is now 16th in the world in cricket rankings, but growing the game in PNG has been extremely tough,'' he said.
''Five years ago they hardly had any grounds that were in good condition at all and had squatters at the grounds and driving schools were driving all over the grounds as well.''
A moat to block cars seems to have worked, whereas in Vanuatu, the players have used their unique facilities to improve their game.
''They actually don't have a single ground that's not dangerous to play on - they're all covered in giant crab holes - if you try to field the ball, it flies up and I've seen some pretty horrific injuries,'' Adam said.
''They actually become incredible fielders as a result of it.''
A program which uses cricket to deliver health messages and checks to remote villages has meant women in Vanuatu and Fiji, who avoid cultural taboos by playing in island dress, reduce their blood pressure and sugar levels with the education and exercise.