The National- Wednesday, January 26, 2011
FOR Jason Kila (20) the dream of being a Barramundi and representing PNG in the national men’s team seemed a long way away when he took the field with the U19s in a qualifying tournament just under 18 months ago.
A meteoric rise has happened since with Kila being appointed as captain of the U19 Garamuts cricket team for the U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand 12 months ago and leading the team to its best ever finish (12th in the World) in any international event.
Not everything is easy though for Kila and as a very quiet and committed young man many challenges have taken him way outside of his comfort zone and some of them have meant great sacrifice as well as distance from his family.
Kila has been living in Melbourne for the past four months as part of his Brian Bell Future Star scholarship.
This has meant Christmas away from the family and adjusting to a completely new routine and set of conditions.
Not only has the weather been a challenge but daily training, some volunteer work and coaching as well as playing with a completely new club and set of team mates has taken a lot of adjusting.
“Jason’s Australian club Box Hill in the Victorian sub district competition have been so supportive,” Cricket PNG chief executive officer Bill Leane said.
“A few weeks back they gave him the chance to open the batting and he made 56 in reasonably quick time.
“The club has continually bowled Jason in pressure situations and he has learnt at a rapid rate”.
“Jason’s extra work at Maddocks sports, (Melbourne’s premier cricket centre), has also increased his learning capacity and there are so many people in Melbourne as well as PNG who have played a hand in Jason’s development,” Leane said.
In Sunday’s game against Italy, Kila came of age at international level with bat and ball.
Striding to the crease with the Barramundis’ in a lot of trouble he and wicket keeper Jack Vare turned the game and then he batted through with the tail to give PNG what would end up being a dependable score.
While Kila just missed out on his maiden half century (46) he occupied the crease during a period where the team put on 100 in just under 25 overs and showed the poise of a player with many more years experience.
He came onto bowl at a time when Italy’s best batsmen were at the crease and the game was in the balance.
Assuming the role as front-line spinner Kila took the critical wicket of an Italian batting ace and then proceeded to see his next ball launched for a massive six out of the ground by another former Australian-Italian with a massive cricket pedigree.
Most bowlers would have dropped their head but he returned to the bowling crease next over and struck again to create a massive momentum shift. He only bowled four overs but ended with 4/20 and did the job that was needed.
When asked after the game how it felt to play so way a modest Kila replied to the assembled media “It felt really good. I am now able to play well in this team. That is really important.”
Coach Andy Bichel said after the game: “Selecting Jason adds a lot of depth and balance to the team.”
“Today was a gamble as the boundaries were so small anything could have happened.
“Kila has worked so hard on his game he is a true emerging star of PNG Cricket.”