Caption: Tarun Nethula working with the Hebou PNG U19 Garamuts
FORMER New Zealand One Day International (ODI) cricketer, Tarun Nethula was impressed with the Hebou PNG Under 19 Garamuts who qualified for their eighth ICC U19 Cricket World Cup when they won the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup – East Asia-Pacific Qualifier 2017 this week.
Nethula, a leg-spinner who was born in India but played all his professional cricket in New Zealand including ODIs for New Zealand, was at the event in Apia, Samoa, with the support of the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) and the ICC, working with all teams.
Nethula first watched PNG play cricket back in 2002 at the Under 19 Cricket World Cup, watching a team that included current Garamuts coach Kila Pala.
“As a cricket fan, I have followed their rise to the top of the associates from a distance but
“prior to this week I knew very little about PNG and its people but my experience with this group of individuals has left me wanting to learn more about PNG, its people and their culture,” he said.
The Garamuts went through the EAP Qualifier undefeated, beating reigning champions Fiji, Vanuatu and hosts Samoa.
Nethula said that he “was amazed with the warm welcome from the management and players. I noticed the coaches were very professional in their approach to trainings and game days”.
He identified a number of players that he believes have real potential including opening bowlers, James Jr Tau and Sema Igo Kamea and top order bat Simon Kalahu Atai.
“Most impressive is their energy and passion on and off the field it is contagious,” said Nethula.
While Nethula believes that there are areas for improvement for the team, he also thinks that there is plenty of raw potential and good skill to work with for the coaches before the World Cup.
“The passion and energy flair and raw skills PNG bring to the field is not too dissimilar to the Caribbean cricketers of the years gone by.”
“With a little refinement and investment, I believe this group will punch above their weight at the World Cup.”
“Here’s hoping PNG will soon become everybody’s second favourite team,” concluded Nethula.
The 2018 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup will be held in New Zealand next year from the January 13th to February 3rd with sixteen countries competing for the title.