6 Sep 2012

Sport: Cricketing greats arrive in PNG for Big Bash

7:06 pm on 6 September 2012

A host of cricketing greats have arrived in Papua New Guinea for this weekend's annual Twenty20 Big Bash tournament.

Among those taking part are the former Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes, ex West Indies skipper Carl Hooper and world cup winner Aravinda de Silva of Sri Lanka.

Vinnie Wylie caught up with some of them:

Merv Hughes built a reputation for terrorising opposition batsmen during his nine year career at the top of international cricket.

Father time has since caught up with the 50 year old who says he will be taking it easy at the bowling crease over the weekend.

"Without doubt Aravinda de Silva will be bowling quicker than me in this tournament. That's beyond me now, bringing pain down on batsmen. We're just here to help Papua New Guinea cricket - give it a little bit of a profile, help promote the game and hopefully get the kids of Papua New Guinea - especially in Port Moresby and Lae - playing the game, and if they do that then that's all good for Papua New Guinea cricket."

The former England batsman Graeme Hick is also looking forward to dusting off the pads once again.

It's the first visit to PNG for the 46 year old, who now resides on Australia's Gold Coast.

He says it's great opportunity to have a bit of fun and help give the game a boost in a country like PNG.

If you've got a small community like this that are playing cricket and loving it, and it's good for the kids, I'm all for it - it's great. I've got two kids who are coming to the end of their teens - as a parent you can get to understand how important it is to put these different opportunities in front of kids to keep them busy and keep them occupied. I mean this is the fastest growing cricket community in the world so they must be doing something right and at the moment it's been good fun and I look forward to the next few days.

The General Manager of Cricket PNG, Greg Campbell, says the tournament is a great opportunity for the top local players to mix it with some true legends of the game.

They're usually off on scholarship but the whole national team's here, the whole under 19s and the 17s arrived back so they're all participating in this so it's a great thing for them and it's amazing, some of these kids even know who Merv Hughes is and even Carl Hooper from the West Indies. They all know who's coming, the whole of PNG's abuzz - probably our best line-up we've ever had since we ran the tournament.

Greg Campbell says the international players will also spend some time at schools throughout PNG conducting coaching clinics with the next generation of players.

Hick and Merv Hughes are going to Lae. Carl Hooper and Scotty Styris actually are jumping on a boat and they're going about 30 minutes out to an island called Fishermans Island. They've got a school over there and a cement wicket and one of the girls actually made our national womens team so she is like the queen of the island over there. When they boys are playing and she walks past they have to stop playing and ask her if she would like to join in so it's the first time they've probably ever had anyone over there of that calibre so I know I've been getting some phone calls back from the island saying they've got three or four hundred people waiting for them to arrive.

The tournament itself gets underway on Saturday in Port Morebsy with the televised final on Sunday.

This is VW.