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Monday, November 10, 2014

Papua New Guinea (PNG) gets ODI status and beats Hongkong twice.

In India Cricket is a religion – after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, there are new stars.  Yesterday at Hyderabad, Virat Kohli became the fastest to reach 6000 in ODIs and Shikhar Dhawan became the fastest (Indian) to make 2000. Cricket has come a long way – from timeless Tests to Five day tests (with a day’s rest in between) to ODIs to T20s … ! – still you have only a handful of countries playing the game at International level.

Miles away but lying just south of the equator, 160km north of Australia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is part of a great arc of mountains stretching from Asia, through Indonesia and into the South Pacific. This fascinating land boasts more than 600 islands and more than 800 indigenous languages  and is home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon. Vast tracts of the country are wild and undeveloped, with magnificent scenery that ranges from pristine coral atolls to volcanic mountains, dense tropical rainforest and large rivers.

The international one-day game is a late twentieth-century development. The first ODI was played on 5th  January 1971 between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, by sheer necessity when the first 3 days of a test were washed out.  India played its first ever ODI in 1974 against England. In the late 1970s, Kerry Packer established the rival World Series Cricket (WSC) competition, and it introduced many of the features of One Day International cricket that are now commonplace, including coloured uniforms, matches played at night under floodlights with a white ball and dark sight screens, and, for television broadcasts, multiple camera angles, effects microphones to capture sounds from the players on the pitch, and on-screen graphics.

PNG (Papua New Guinea) became the latest entrants to ODIs as they played two official International matches against Hongkong against Australia – a grand entry, winning both of them.   Hong Kong buckled under pressure as Papua New Guinea successfully chased down 261 to win the second ODI cricket match in Townsville, Australia.  Papua New Guinea, beaten Hong Kong by three wickets on Saturday in their first ever ODI. 

Hong Kong and PNG were given ODI status by the ICC after finishing fifth and sixth at the World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand this year.  The matches were played at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, north Queensland, which hosted 2012 Under-19 World Cup matches as well as several international A-team fixtures, has been  accredited as Australia's tenth international venue after an ICC inspection.

Cricket at PNG is not new – it has been played in the coastal villages influenced by the members of London Missionary Society  in the late 19th century, and it has exerted a powerful hold on Hanuabada ever since.  In Cricinfo in an essay on Papuan cricket, Gideon Haigh recounts the former Tasmania legspinner John Watt's observations of the sport in the early 1900s. "If you visit any native village about Port Moresby, small boys can always be seen playing cricket right on the water's edge, with material of their own make," Watt wrote. "Every other hit the ball goes into the water, while the two batsmen 'run them out'." A significant majority of all those who have worn the PNG baggy black have hailed from Hanuabada, which still dominates the national side today.

"They just play on the road, and if you hit one house, you could be out. If you hit that house, it's six," explainsGreg Campbell, the former Australia Test player who is now the CEO of Cricket PNG. "They have their own markings on the road, sometimes games are played with back-to-back to stumps. They're just cricket-mad in the village - they grow up in it, they raise money to buy their own uniforms."

At  Hanuabada, geography prevents easy transport links: the only way to travel between Port Moresby and Lae, the second largest city, is by air.  Not sure why that article refers them as ‘barramundis’ (which appears to be name of a fish).  Four years ago the Barramundis were ranked the 23rd best one-day side in the world. Now they are 16th. In January, they defeated Kenya, Uganda and Namibia in the World Cup Qualifiers. They finished fourth in the tournament, two places short of a World Cup berth, but gained ODI status for the next four years.

In the 1982 ICC Trophy (the qualifier for the World Cup) PNG beat Bangladesh in the third-place playoff, effectively making them the tenth best side in the world.  There were  some proposals to include PNG in the inaugural South Australian Premier League in 2013-14. It involved around 50 days away and cost 380,000 kina (about US $150,000).  There is further news that Lega Siaka, a 21-year-old opener from a fishing family in Hanuabada who scored two belligerent centuries in the World Cup Qualifiers in January, will sign for Melbourne Renegades this year.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) determines which teams have ODI status (meaning that any match played between two such teams under standard one-day rules is classified as an ODI). The ten Test-playing nations (which are also the ten full members of the ICC) have permanent ODI status.  Since 2005, the ICC has granted temporary ODI and T20I status to six other teams (known as Associate/Affiliate members). Teams earn this temporary status for a period of four years based on their performance in the quadrennial ICC World Cricket League – or, more specifically, based on the top six finishing positions at the ICC World Cup Qualifier, which is the final event of the World Cricket League.  That list has Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Hongkong, Papua New Guinea. So far, four Associate Nations have held this four-year temporary ODI status as a result of World Cricket League performances, before being relegated after underperforming at the World Cup Qualifier.  They are Kenya, Canada, Bermuda and Netherlands.

The ICC can also grant special ODI status to all matches within certain high profile tournaments – an example being East Africa’s participation in 1975 Prudential World Cup. 

The barramundi or Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) is a species of catadromous fish in family Latidae of order Perciformes. The species is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from the Persian Gulf, through Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Nov. 2014

With inputs taken from Cricinfo article.

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