Cricket resumes in PNG, as Barras start planning for India 2021

Cricket in Port Moresby is able to restart following a suspension due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic. Isaac Lockett looks at the restart but also looks ahead at what 2021 may have in store for the male and female teams.

Joe Dawes explained to the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier that the Barramundis’ focus on playing spin for the last 18 months hold the team ‘in good stead’. Dawes, who has previously been India’s bowling coach, is looking forward to the team having an opportunity to experience Indian crowds in full force, in ‘a once in a lifetime experience…if we make it through to the second round we will play India in front of 80,000 people’. 

When talking about what the change in location actually means for the PNG team, Dawes feels that due to the nature of the format, he feels that the location of the tournament will not have that large of an impact on the team and their preparation. However, Dawes also mentioned that the team selection may be altered due to the change in location, saying that the all-rounders taken to the tournament may change compared to previous national selections, with a potential preference given to spin-bowling all-rounders. But before any decision like that is made, the selection committee will need to wait to see where their games will be played.

PNG celebrate Rezza Ghaznavi wicket (Photo: ICC)

The Barramundis’ will face Oman, Sri Lanka and Ireland during the first round of the T20 World Cup in India, as had been agreed for the 2020 event.      

Speaking of Dawes’ insight into Indian conditions, CEO Greg Campbell believes this experience puts the team in a good position. Former Australian Test player Campbell told RNZ that Dawes ‘knows a lot of the places and the players…so we will look at going early like everyone will into India to get used to the conditions. It will be different to what the boys have faced but very much looking forward to it mate, it’s going to be so exciting’.

Cricket restarts in PNG

PNG domestic Cricketing action resumed on Friday for male players with the rest of the weekend and the next one being dedicated to the Isuzu National Cup. After the conclusion of the domestic 50 over competition, a T20 competition then starts which will see teams compete until the end of September. The women’s game restarts on Monday with the Women’s T20 Smash starting up and promises to be an exciting competition. 

Cricket PNG has introduced health measures to ensure that players and officials are kept as safe as possible. Temporary fencing is now installed around Amini Park to control who is able to have access to the ground, teams are to be kept separate and spectators won’t be allowed. Despite the restrictions in place, it will not put a dampener on cricket’s return with everybody ‘looking forward to starting this weekend’ according to Campbell.  

They may not have any firm plans for when their international fixtures are to restart, however, Cricket PNG are hoping to keep some of the country’s best talent playing cricket during the domestic off-season with the plan to have a number of players playing club cricket in Australia. Campbell elaborated that ‘getting the ok and the visa restrictions is sort of put on hold a little bit with what’s happening in Melbourne and Sydney … we’re taking each day, week like everyone does, month by month, so hopefully in a couple of months things are better in Australia and we can get them in to do some isolation and then stay there for four or five months playing cricket’.   

The Women’s World Cup which was also scheduled to take place during 2021 in New Zealand has also been postponed until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The PNG Lewas were one of ten teams to take part in World Cup Qualifier which was due to be held in Sri Lanka last month, where the top three finishers would progress to the main event. However, the postponement will give coach of the PNG Women’s side Kirsten Beams, the ex-Australian international, more time to work with the team to ensure that the team are ready to compete for qualification. 

2021 now looms as a massive year for Cricket PNG, with the men’s team having four upcoming Cricket World Cup League 2 series to prepare for, and the country’s first World Cup, with three home CWCL2 series and one away in Nepal. Alongside this, the women’s team will be looking to qualify for the Women’s Cricket World Cup. 

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