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Women’s cricket in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is having a big year. 

In January, the women’s senior national team, the PNG Lewas, took out the six-nation T20 Pacific Cup, defeating the New Zealand Māori side in Auckland. They then toured Zimbabwe in March, playing their first official one-day ODI fixtures, and winning their first-ever T20 game against a full International Cricket Council (ICC) member in Zimbabwe. 

Attention has now turned to the women’s Isuzu T20 SMASH competition in PNG, with all fixtures being played at Port Moresby’s Amini Park and broadcast live on EMTV. That competition reaches its climax on May 4, when the Telikom Mudmen go up against defending champions, the Niugini Assurance Cassowaries.

Showcasing the best of women’s cricket

The very best of PNG’s female cricketers are on the T20 SMASH roster this year, including Lewas captain Brenda Toi Hau, who also captains T20 club, the Mariners, and her Lewas vice-captain, Sibona Jimmy, who leads the Cassowaries.

Additionally, the competition has featured three marquee players from Australia’s domestic Weber Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in an initiative supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.

“We have been fortunate to attract three fantastic players … who have jumped in headfirst from the moment they landed in Port Moresby,” says Richard Done, CEO of Cricket PNG. “It’s been a great initiative by PacificAus Sports, and we thank the Australian Government for their support.” 

The Australians have been billeted across three of the four teams in the competition. Ellie Johnston from the Brisbane Heat, joined the Pei Beta Black Bass. The last-round match between the Mariners and the Black Bass was a nailbiter, with the Black Bass falling short by just one run to finish fourth on the ladder. 

Ellie’s cousin, Ruth, from the Hobart Hurricanes, and the Melbourne Renegades’ Rhiann O’Donnell, have been billeted to the Cassowaries and the Mudmen respectively – and both will participate in the final on May 4.

“Ruth, Ellie and Rhiann are wonderful ambassadors for their WBBL teams, but more so have earned the immediate respect of our PNG players both on and off the field, and vice versa,” says Mr Done.

The trio’s participation has given the PNG teams exposure to some elite-level game-play experience. It has also provided the three Australians with a unique insight into PNG’s sporting culture. 

“It’s been fantastic,” says Ruth. “I’ve been really keen to get here because my grandma who grew up here always spoke fondly of PNG. Loving the girls, they are so much fun and always enjoy everything they do, so I love that about them!”

Australian players and PNG captains at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby / Cricket Australia

Building a reputation 

The PNG women’s raw and exciting approach to the game has been gaining attention. 

After the T20 SMASH contest wraps up, PNG’s U19 team, the Siales, will be heading to Indonesia for the ICC Under 19 Women’s T20 World Cup East Asia Pacific Qualifier from May 14–20. They will play Fiji, Indonesia and Samoa in Bali, with the winning team going to the Under-19 T20 World Cup in Malaysia next January. 

“The U19s are getting really good exposure with game time before they head to their World Cup Qualifier, and they are growing daily,” adds Ruth, noting that four members of the Siales team played in T20 SMASH clubs this season.

The senior team is also making an impression, with the Lewas now sitting at number 11 on the T20 ICC rankings.

It’s been a years-long process to put PNG cricket on the world map, but with the local talent available, it may not be too much longer before the PNG women start making international waves. 


Ellie Johnston with a cricket bat signed by the Australian players and PNG team captains

Ellie Johnston with a cricket bat signed by the Australian players and PNG team captains (Cricket Australia)

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