Australia target PNG and Vanuatu in cricket diplomacy project

SYDNEY: Cricket Australia has partnered with the government to help develop the game in neighboring Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, the governing body announced.

The announcement brings cricket into the PacificAus Sports programme, an Australian Government sports diplomacy initiative in the region, which already involves the Olympic movement, rugby league, rugby union, football and netball.

The Australia-Pacific Cricket Linkages project will enable Papua New Guinea’s men’s and women’s teams to compete in Australia and provide coaching and training support.

Australian Indigenous teams will tour Vanuatu and work with the community with a specific aim of getting more girls to learn cricket.

“We are delighted to be part of PacificAus Sports and to play a role in the development of cricket in PNG and Vanuatu, from the elite level to community participation,” said Nick Hockley, Chief Executive of Cricket Australia.

“We also look forward to delivering benefits off the field, including results for gender equality across sport.”

Papua New Guinea’s men, the burras, are ranked 20th and last in the International Cricket Council’s one-day world rankings and 19th in Twenty20 cricket after qualifying for last year’s World Cup.

The women, the Lewas, rank 15th in the world in the shortest format.

Vanuatu ranks 30th in the women’s Twenty20 rankings, while the men’s is ranked 47th in the world behind Romania and just ahead of Norway.

The PacificAus program also operates in Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa.