Samoa: Internationals vs. PNG and American Samoa planned; local comp. about to start

The unveiling of the Samoa Cricket Association's new ground has brought immediate benefits with an historic visit planned by the Papua-New Guinea national team and an increase in team numbers in the domestic competition.

For years SCA officials knew their sport could only prosper through a venue which they could access freely and use to host important matches.

Now that foresight has been vindicated with PNG's visit in September as part of Samoa's buildup to the inaugural Pacific Cup and new teams joining the local league.

Samoa will also host matches against an Auckland team and a first ever international against American Samoa, where cricket has been reportedly played for many years.

SCA official, Jim Dunlop, said when the dry season comes, sometime in July or August, it is feasible cricket will be played at Samoa Gardens Oval seven days a week.

"We have a long twilight here in Samoa and they will be able to come down to the oval after work, so it is possible it will be used every day."

Mr. Dunlop acknowledges the ground has imperfections but its positives are numerous.

"Sure, there is the odd rock here and there, and the ground in most places is rock hard. After heavy rains, the newly tar sealed roads empty thousands of gallons of water onto the square by boundary, and people keep taking our ornamental shade trees," Mr. Dunlop offers.

"However, like most volunteer community projects, our cricket ground has engendered great pride. An Australian from Balmain [Sydney], who hasn't played cricket for 18 years now has his own team.

"So far we play practice games three times a week as the six senior teams and four social teams, gear up, learn the rules, and have a go. All the games are 30 overs, with no LBW - we have not installed our third umpire yet.

Three of the established clubs, Apia Phantoms, Polynesian Flyers and the Police will play in the domestic competition when it starts, with the fourth, Wanderers, voluntarily splitting up to provide experience for the younger sides.

Other possible additions are Uaea Ulalini, BLC, Bandits, Marist and Lauiki Lions.

Mr. Dunlop said the early signs for the domestic competition, due to start next week to coincide with Samoa's Festival Week, were promising.

"We have enough good quality teams, good umpires and equipment. Most of all there is a great deal of enthusiasm with a good blend of local players and expatriates."