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Maui inaugurates the most scenic cricket ground on the planet
by DreamCricket USA
Jun 11, 2008
Maui inaugurates the most scenic cricket ground on the planet

Honolulu dominated the proceedings against Maui Cricket Club on the ground but the June 7th weekend truly belonged to Maui as they inaugurated their brand-new and spectacular astro-turf pitch at the H.A. Baldwin Beach Park on the Hana Highway in Paia.

The new ground attracted plenty of interest with all the local newspapers carrying news of its opening. These included The Maui News, Maui Time Weekly and Pacific Business News.

Maui's cricket ground with Mt Haleakala in the background. Better than Lord's?
The inaugural weekend marked the first Friendship Cup tournament. The inter-island tournament was named Alexander Liholiho King Kamehameha IV Ipu Pilialoha O Hawai'i after the cricket playing 4th king of Hawaii who reigned from 1855 to 1863. The king was an anglophile and his favorite game was cricket. He had English tutors and advisers, traveled in England as a teenager, was married to Emma Rooke - a British descendant, and Queen Victoria was his son's godmother.

Maui's cricket - On the road to Hana

Maui has had a cricket club for some time now. Uday Kari, who has been at the helm of affairs told DreamCricket.com - "until 2006, we just played for fun and sometimes hosted teams coming off cruise ships."

"In 2007, we felt that we needed to establish an astro-turf pitch in the central part of the island so that everyone can have easy access."

"Cricket is the second-most-popular sport in the world after soccer," Kari said. "We've got 100 baseball fields on Maui. Why not cricket?"

Uday Kari, a software engineer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was spending his own funds for cricket on the island until then. But the ground needed more resources than an individual could afford.

Hawaiian Umpires have their own attire
Kari first pitched the idea to Alexander & Baldwin Inc., which owns the H.A. Baldwin Beach park and obtained their nod. On July 5th, 2007, Kari made a presentation to Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation. The Parks department agreed to provide the materials needed to erect a permanent pitch at the park in Paia.

On Saturday, May 31, 2008, his dreams came to fruition as players of the Maui Cricket Club poured concrete for a first class cricket pitch. "Much thanks to Maui cricketers and support from family and friends. The entire team came together as never before to complete the work smoothly and in record time. We owe this to the Parks Department who not only just allowed, but encouraged us to build the pitch to the exacting standards of a first class ground," Kari said.

Alexander Liholiho King Kamehameha IV Ipu Pilialoha O Hawai'i Cricket Cup a.k.a. The Friendship Cup

A week after the pitch was poured, the MCC, now equipped with a homeground more beautiful than its namesake's ground over in England, hosted the Honolulu Cricket Club for a weekend of cricket.

The beach is just beyond the boundary - in the gully.
"Maui Cricket Club just doubled in size over the weekend thanks to all the hoopla. It was a blast! Mahalo to Maui News for all the publicity," Kari said. "Cricket has come alive in the Hawaiian isles! Now you have another reason to vacation here."

Reverend Kedar from the Temple of Peace in Haiku blessed the new pitch. He must have forgotten to bless the Maui Cricket Club. Because HCC dominated the proceedings on both days, as befits an island with 10 times more population and greater bench strength than Hawaii.

Rev Kedar blessed the new ground.
Maui's players enjoyed their cricket despite the losses. Maui's Daniel Lovell was best player and Andrew Wallace remained unbeaten in both games, top scoring with 58 runs on Day 2 - making him the top batsman.

Besides cricket, there was plenty of food, drink and, of course, music. "Fresh catch-of-the-day came straight out of the Pacific Ocean thanks to Wakhimba Mills and his friend Lucky," Kari wrote. Irie Aloha's Baz Cumberhatch provided cricketing whites and hospitality was provided by club members Joel Luong and his new bride Tanya, as well as Andrew Wallace and his wife Joanne.

Team Maui on their heavenly ground
Honolulu is planning a return trip weekend before Labor Day and a Marin County team from the Pig & Whistle pub is planning a visit as well.

Honolulu Cricket Club has big plans too!

The Honolulu Cricket Club (HCC) was established in 1893 when Hawaii still was a territory of the United States. In fact, the club is featured in The Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest sporting organization in the Pacific. The game was first played in Hawaii by Scottish engineers working at sugar companies in Oahu and Maui.

HCC has 40 members who play year-round sunday league cricket at the Kapi'olani Park. It is pushing to expand the game beyond the island of Oahu where Honolulu is located.

Cricketers in Hawaii today come from all walks of life. HCC includes doctors, professors, military personnel, business entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and construction workers. According to Honolulu Advertiser, Rick Pike, an Australian who first moved to Hawaii in 1995, was riding his motorcycle past Kapi'olani Park when he saw a game of cricket being played. "I did a double take," Pike said. "I nearly fell off my bike. I couldn't get over there fast enough."

The victorious Team Honolulu
Mark Berwick, the Hawaiian captain of the Honolulu Cricket Club is district manager for the Australian Trade Commission in Hawaii. Berwick's own first exposure to cricket was on TV whilst on a vacation to England when he was 10. Most of the cricketers in Hawaii have similar backgrounds as Rick or Mark - they are either immigrants from cricket playing countries or Hawaiians who took an interest in the game on their travels overseas.

Berwick realizes that the next generation of cricketers would have to be from the local schools. He is keen to make Hawaii a center of gravity for cricket in the region and believes corporate sponsorships would help create local leagues and attract visiting teams.

Berwick has had preliminary discussions with the Hawaii Tourism Authority. He is already talking with island schools to promote the sport. He thinks Hawaii has an important role to play in Pacific rim cricket. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Japan and Vanuatu - all play cricket and a youth tournament might be a big draw. "If we can expose Hawaiian kids to new interests, then we have already accomplished something," Mark says.

With the efforts Uday Kari, Mark Berwick and their fellow cricketers, lots more Hawaiians could soon be saying Howzaat to cricket!

DreamCricket.com says Aloha to Hawaiian cricket and wishes them all the best!

Links:

H.A. Baldwin Cricket Ground in Maui

Maui Cricket Club

Honolulu Cricket Club

Article - Venu Palaparthi
Pictures - Uday Kari
 
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