The prospect of a Pacific Island batter blasting sixes around the Melbourne Cricket Ground might be closer than you think.
Papua New Guinea internationals Norman Vanua and Charles Amini Junior recently spent a week in camp with the Adelaide Strikers, who opened the defence of their Big Bash T20 title with a five wicket victory over the Brisbane Heat.
The duo played in two practice matches last weekend, with Amini impressing with the ball and making 28 with the bat in the Saturday match.
Adelaide assistant coach Joe Dawes is also head coach of the PNG Barramundis and believes some of his players would not look out of place in the Big Bash proper.
“I think CJ Amini’s got a real opportunity potentially to get a spot somewhere along the line as an overseas player,” Dawes said.
“I think he brings all three skills to the game (batting, bowling and fielding) and I just wanted to give him a bit of a taste for it and the same for Norm and they were good.”
Dawes said the Barramundis pair soaked up their time with the Strikers and chance to rub shoulders alongside some leading players and coaches.
“We’ve got (former Australian opener) Michael Di Venuto on our staff this year. CJ had a chat with him about his batting and then we put him next to (Afghanistan international spinner) Rashid Khan the other night and he talked about his bowling with Rash, so great learning experiences for both of them and something that I hope will help us keep to improve when we get back up to Port Moresby.”
Dawes said T20 teams were increasingly casting their recruitment nets wider which can only be a good thing for associate countries like Papua New Guinea.
“It’s just opportunity isn’t it? I mean you don’t always have to go to a full member nation: we’ve seen what the Afghanistani guys have done when they’ve been given an opportunity and there’s one of the Nepalese guys now with the Melbourne Stars as well,” he said.
“The associate role – although Afghanistan is now a full member – are starting to make inroads and I don’t think it will be long before one of our blokes gets a crack.”
The opportunities have not been limited to on-field action, with Cricket PNG national strength and conditioning coach Meiling Choong also spending 10 days with the Adelaide Strikers team.