The moment a wicket falls, the fielder at mid-on blows a whistle and begins an elaborate ritual. Every fielder dances and claps hands rhythmically, and chants as the batter departs – running, not surprisingly, rather than walking off the field.
In conventional men’s cricket this would be gloating, or triumphalism: giving a batsman such a send-off is just not done. But this is Samoan women’s cricket, or “kilikiti”, at Papatoetoe Cricket Club in south Auckland, New Zealand, the city’s most deprived area, where if you can find a job it will be shift work.
The stumps are half as tall again as normal ones and the ball is rubber. The bat – like a triangular baseball club but twice the length – is made from breadfruit trees, the upper half wrapped with string, with all the care lavished on English willow.
The kilikiti league season in Auckland does not begin until January, but an exhibition game was staged on Saturday for the Telegraph. A quick game is said to be a good game and this one was wrapped up in less than two hours; so a player can often enjoy three games in a day. The ball is bowled from one end, then the other, alternately: in effect one-ball overs. Fielders, whenever they are not singing or dancing, are running into position, not standing around for whole overs at a time.
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