Australian cricketer Holly Ferling was impressed and excited about the standard and potential of the women cricketers from the six teams competing at the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier – East Asia-Pacific (EAP) in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
With support from the Australian Government, Ferling spent three days in Vanuatu training with the teams, working with them on match days and learning more about the development and growth of cricket in the region.
“The standard here is unbelievable, there’s a number of bowlers who are bowling ridiculously fast and a number of batters who are quite fearless in how they approach the game which is exactly what you want for T20 cricket,” Ferling said after seeing all teams in training ahead of matches.
Women’s cricket in the EAP region has increased steadily over the last six years, with more than 200,000 women and girls taking part in cricket programs and competitions in 2018, and five members ranked inside the top 30 on the global women’s T20 rankings table.
And Ferling thinks that development and growth is reaping rewards with players and teams showing both talent and ability, and a strong understanding of how to play high quality T20 cricket.
She was “most impressed that a number of the bowlers were aware of their field placements and how they were going to get a batter out and how they were going to restrict a batter as well, which as we know in twenty 20 cricket is absolutely critical.”
“These tactics are what sets teams apart and to hear some of the conversations that were happening between the captains and the bowlers, it really shows how far cricket in these nations has come,” Ferling said.
Ferling’s visit to the Pacific was also an opportunity for her to learn about the impact of cricket in the region on communities and people, particularly for women and girls.
Cricket, which is a founding partner of the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnerships program, works across countries in the Pacific and Asia using cricket to contribute to development outcomes and foster people to people links with Australia.
For Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, the Honourable Jenny Da Rin “Holly’s passion for the game and willingness to share her experience and skill inspires young women across our region.”
“The teams participating in the competition in Vanuatu have relished the opportunity to work with a top Australian athlete.”
“Through the new Australian-Pacific Sports Linkages Program, we will continue to support sport in the Pacific, build connections in the region and raise the profile of women in sport,” said Ms Da Rin.
Ferling spent time with participants from Vanuatu Cricket’s Women’s Island Cricket Program, a program that combines learning how to play cricket with education sessions for middle aged and older women.
After getting the opportunity to play Island Cricket with the participants Ferling reflected that “it’s such an amazing initiative, not just playing cricket but educating the women about nutrition and health, and providing them with all of these things that we in Australia take for granted.”
“Physical activity is such an important activity in this part of the world, both for health reasons but also for women to build confidence in their communities and having those social connections, it has really transformed some of the villages,” she said.
In addition being impressed by the cricket skills and community development on display, Ferling also believes that cricket in the EAP region reflects global trends in women’s cricket and women’s sport with the unity between teams and players driving of growth.
“All of the teams love being around each other and speaking to a number of the teams they’re loving being involved in each other’s cultures and getting to understand each other’s cultures.”
“I know that it’s taken a number of years but I think women’s sport and cricket are on the cusp of something amazing and we owe it to these developing nations that cricket continues to thrive and grow.”
“If cricket is stronger (in the region) our whole sport is stronger,” Ferling concluded.
Holly Ferling’s visit to Vanuatu was supported by the Australian Government, Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council.