CRICKET PNG has paid tribute to a former president Veari Maha and his board for its pioneering attempts to have PNG’s first turf wicket built over a decade ago.
On Sept 29, 1999, Maha and the PNG cricket board embarked on a challenging venture to construct the country’s maiden turf pitch at Amini Park in Port Moresby.
An official ground breaking ceremony was held with Australian cricket icon Allan Border the guest of honour.
Maha at the time said PNG’s need for better facilities was paramount if it wanted to climb the world rankings.
“We spent a lot of money sending teams overseas but there is no marked difference.
“Unless we play matches on turf wickets then we are going to be behind.
“Having a turf wicket is going to change the status of cricket in PNG,” he was quoted as saying in The National in 1999.
However, the project did not accomplish its goal until now when current Cricket PNG general manager Bill Leane instituted changes since taking charge of operations last May.
Leane acknowledged Maha’s vision and determination to bring the idea of a turf wicket to reality.
“The vision of Veari Maha and his board was definitely correct and the need for world class facilities is critical for cricket in this country to have a place on the international stage,” Leane said.
Leane explained the need for turf wickets in the country besides the obvious benefit to local cricket. “Today the ICC (International Cricket Council) requires PNG to have three first class standard turf wickets and suitable facilities to be able to host international matches.
“Breaking ground now on the project to install turf wickets at Amini Park and Colts ground will be just the first step,” Leane said.
Maha said yesterday he was happy that his dream of having a turf wicket was finally coming true.
“I’m glad that money from the ICC and other development funds are being used to build this turf wicket.
“The dream that I started is beginning to be materialised.
“Cricket really needs it and although it may upset the running of other codes – its okay.
Leane said that the cost of building a turf pitch and a cricket stadium was more than the original 1999 estimation of K2.2 million but thanked current sponsors for their tremendous assistance.
“In today’s economy just laying a turf pitch at Colts and Amini will cost over K1 million and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of our friends.”
Local businesses such as Hebou Construction, Monier, Brian Bell, Badili Hardware, Esco, Air Niugini, Central Drillers, BSP and overseas bodies in Cricket Queensland, Cricket Australia, The Gabba Trust and Jimbooba Turf have all helped greatly in realising the dream.
Cricket PNG is planning to officially open the new turf wicket in July when it hosts an Australian Indigenous side captained by Australian Twenty-20 rising star Dan Christian.