The International Cricket Council (ICC), Australian Government and Cricket Australia (CA) have signed up to a partnership for capacity building and strengthening of cricket development programs in the Pacific.

ICC President David Morgan signed the agreement in Canberra at the Prime Minister's XI cricket match against the West Indians along with Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland.

The partnership includes Australian Government support of up to AUS$1.6million over four years, and will initially focus on Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

"The ICC is delighted to be partnering the Australian Government and Cricket Australia to strengthen the development of cricket in targeted Pacific island nations, said Mr Morgan.

"This funding represents the most significant investment from a Full Member country to the 'developing' cricket world since the commencement of the Pepsi ICC Development Program.

"Over the past decade, the ICC's East Asia-Pacific (EAP) development program has been supporting the sustained development of cricket in the region which houses 10 ICC member countries and a growing player base of over 70,000 active participants.

"This support presents a great opportunity to build on these existing structures and improve the quality and delivery of cricket in Pacific island communities."

Sport is widely recognised as a vital tool in building stronger communities, not least through providing opportunities for youth leadership and achievement, and the partnership will give players, leaders, administrators, coaches and officials opportunities to progress to levels beyond community competitions, as well as strengthening the sport at the grassroots.

The partnership is an agreement between the ICC's EAP development programme, Cricket Australia, the Australian Government's Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission.