With the aim of finding the next Assad Vala or Mahuru Dai or Ravini Oa, Cricket PNG has launched the Swire Shipping Talent ID program and with the raw talent thrown up in the latest edition of the program, the future is looking bright for Cricket in Papua New Guinea.
Cricket PNG hosted 60 youngsters from all over Papua New Guinea, right here in Port Moresby - to go through a week long camp under the watchful eye of Cricket PNG Talent ID Coach, Rodney Maha.
Maha has been in love with cricket all his life and has been involved in the national set up from all the way back in 1998, when he played in the U19 World Cup alongside Rarua Dikana. He won his Baggy Black in 2001 and remained a Hebou PNG Barramundi for 3 years.
The All-Rounder knew he could not stay away from cricket as he started working as a development officer in Lae in 2009 and worked his way up to become Head Coach with the Lewas - from 2015 to 2017.
In that time, Maha led the Lewas to a Plate Championship at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers and many other glorious moments. But what he carried with him was a keen eye to identify talent - a part of his role as head coach of the Lewas.
Maha is now working on identifying talent fulltime.
“I look for Under 17 players to feed Kila Pala and the Hebou PNG U19 Garamuts and also looking for girls to give to the City Pharmacy PNG Lewas program which is being looked after by my teammate Rarua Dikana. From this program, once we see talent, they go into the set up for the respective national teams,” he stated.
"There's a lot of ways we can find talent. We are trying to see something raw. Something that is not there yet, but can be honed. For example, if someone is hitting the ball hard, that's a start.
“The program is driven by the national coach."
And Maha knows that the Talent ID Program is nothing without the input of the coaches working with the national teams.
“We won't link together properly, without consulting with the coach who decides the players that plays for the team."
Cricket PNG National Team Coach Joe Dawes has mentioned he wants more emphasis on spin, with spinners being viewed as real gamechangers in cricket.
Their ability to take wickets and restrict scoring is as valuable as gold in cricket.
"All young kids want to become fast bowlers. But what I try to find in those bowlers, is someone who isn't the paciest bowler. Then I look at the release of the ball and identify if it is close to an off-spinner/leg spinner's action. If it is, I will recommend the player to the coach of the Garamuts and so on and so forth.”
This program ran for a week and the kids were being coached every day at Amini Park - alongside senior teams of the Hebou PNG Barramundis and the City Pharmacy Lewas.
This program runs three times a year. This is the first term, during school holidays.
The second and third terms are yet to be held for the raw cricketing talent Papua New Guinea has.
(Swire Shipping Talent ID program is about finding Lewas too)