Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's Just Not Cricket...

South Seas war club cricketers take a beating from football
By Nick Squires in Funafuti
(Filed: 20/03/2006)

The bat is more like a war club, the ball the size of a lemon and the players wear anything but white.
A kilikiti batsman prepares for a delivery
Kilikiti, a form of cricket played on the islands of Polynesia, is one of the strangest sporting legacies of the British Empire. But in Tuvalu, a scattered archipelago which under British rule was half of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the game is losing out to football.
Kilikiti - the word is a Polynesian corruption of "cricket" - features teams of up to 50, including women. It evolved from the efforts of the London Missionary Society to "civilise" the natives of the South Seas in the 19th century, when missionaries strove to substitute competitive sport for tribal warfare.
Batsmen stand in front of a single stump and wield a fearsome-looking three-sided wooden bat.
The unusual shape of the bat means that the ball is liable to fly off in random directions, scattering pigs, dogs and children and frequently ending up lost in long grass or a grove of coconut palms.
The wooden balls, carved from the wood of the native tiare tree, are so small that they are hard to see at times.
"It is easy to get hit in the face," said Ofulino Ekueta, 25, a nurse at Tuvalu's only hospital. "There can be a lot of injuries."
If the ball lands in the nearby lagoon it counts as a six but the batsmen must retrieve it himself, an unpleasant task when the lagoon is ringed with pig pens and full of effluent.
Polynesian pop music blared from a ramshackle bar at a recent match. While a modest crowd watched two village teams slug it out, nearby games of football attracted many more participants.
"Cricket is boring," said Manoa Lito, 19, a student. "Football is much faster and more interesting."
Daily Telegraph


Blogger colcam said...

This is great. Sounds far more interesting than English cricket - or football.

7:23 AM  
Blogger ByronB said...

It does, doesn't it? I love the idea of a triangular bat - maybe as a first step they should make cricketers hit the ball with the back of their bats? That might make it more interesting. Or bowl from both ends at once, just to speed things up.
Football has lost its way - there's too much money involved now.

8:13 AM  

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