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Cricket News - by Craig Hill

Indigenous Cricket Imparja Cup

February 6th 2009 15:26
Test great Matthew Hayden will start work on his ambition to see indigenous cricketers wear the baggy green when he attends the Imparja Cup that starts today in Alice Springs.

“I’ve stated that I have a dream to get Indigenous players wearing the baggy green and the journey starts for these players at the Imparja Cup.

“It’s my first chance to be involved and I’m looking forward to helping out in whatever way I can to see these talented players develop into first-class, and eventually international, cricketers.”

The Imparja Cup starts today in Alice Springs, with over 400 players or volunteers and 26 teams expected to be involved across four divisions of competition with the week culminating in Finals on Saturday 14 February. Each state and territory is represented at the 2009 Imparja Cup with Twenty20, 40-overs per side and Super 8s cricket to be played.

Senior state squad members Dan Christian (SA), Worrin Williams (Qld) and Josh Lalor (NSW) have all competed in the Imparja Cup in recent years, while Samantha Hinton who competed for New South Wales in the women’s division last year has since been added to the NSW Breakers development squad, confirming it as the major nurturing ground for indigenous cricket.

Indigenous All-Star Cricket Team Australia
Matthew Hayden and the Indigenous All-Star team

For the second year National Indigenous Television (NITV) will broadcast all matches from Traeger Park, including the men’s and women’s final. In a first, the men’s final will screen nationally on NITV (Channel 180 on the Foxtel/Austar platform) on same day delay on Saturday 14 February from 4:30pm, while the rest of the series will screen through March.

Along with Matthew Hayden there will be a number of other former greats in attendance thanks to the Australian Cricketers Association, with Brad Hogg, Greg Matthews, Ashley Mallett, Matthew Elliot and Ryan Campbell in Alice Springs to conduct children’s clinics and community visits. An ACA All-Stars XI will take on a team of the tournament XI (Imparja Cup Honour squad) in a Twenty20 match as the curtain raiser for the men’s final on Saturday.

Cricket Australia will also have a female ambassador in attendance to work closely with the women’s division, with former Commonwealth Bank Southern Star and current Vic Spirit player Melanie Jones attending.

Cricket Australia General Manager of Game Development Damien Bown said that the Imparja Cup is part of the growing momentum for indigenous cricket.

“Cricket is serious about fostering a greater connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and the Imparja Cup is the focal point for indigenous cricket.

“Each year the competition improves on the field and off, whether that by the standard of cricket played or through the new audiences being reached through the NITV television broadcasts of the event.

“Our ambition to see Indigenous cricketers wearing the baggy green has received a boost through Matthew Hayden’s offer to help in this area. We are very pleased with his support and through the collaborative work of Cricket Australia, the Federal Government, the ACA and the Lords Taverners we hope to make good on Matthew and Cricket Australia’s ambition” said Bown.

Teams contesting the state and territory division will play a mix of Twenty20 and 40 overs per side cricket with a 50 overs per side final. Queensland has been the dominant team in recent times, winning four of the last five titles, including 2008. However strong competition is expected from last year’s finalists Tasmania along with Western Australia.

The major centres division will do battle in a Twenty20 challenge while the Northern Territory community division and the women’s competition will play under Super 8s conditions.

First held in 1994 as a Northern Territory community-based event between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, the Imparja Cup has grown to become a premier fixture on the Australian cricket calendar.

The Imparja Cup Final can be seen next Saturday on NITV at 4:30pm, while other matches will screen on NITV through March.

NITV can be found on Channel 180 on the Foxtel/Austar platform.

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