Way back in September 29th, 1999 under the then visionary leadership of Veari Maha, Wayne Satchell and their Cricket Board of Control colleagues, Papua New Guinea was promised a turf wicket and improved facilities at Amini Park and the Colts Cricket Ground. Australian Cricket Icon Allan Border visited Port Moresby and promoted the need to have improved facilities by taking part in an official ground breaking ceremony.

Now PNG will finally have it's first turf wickets.

"The vision of Veari Maha and his Board was definitely correct and the need for World class facilities is critical for cricket in this country to have a place on the International stage" Cricket PNG General Manager Bill Leane said today.

In a column written by Martin Liri for the National on September 28, 1999, Mr Maha was quoted as saying: “ We spend a lot of money sending teams overseas but there is no marked difference”. “ Unless they (players) play matches on turf wickets we are going to be behind”. “It's a lot of work but I can't let PNG sit back”.

In describing having an International standard facility Mr Maha said “It's going to change the status of Cricket in PNG”. “No truer words could have been spoken” reflected Mr Leane when referring to the start of work today. “The ICC (International Cricket Council) requires PNG to have three first class standard turf wickets and suitable facilities to be able to qualify to host international cricket. Breaking ground now on the project to install turf wickets at Colts Cricket Ground and Amini Park will be just the first step. For the players to learn how to play on turf we have to have more than one ground and that is why so much effort is going into the three grounds in our precinct”.

Under the Chairmanship of Mr Mick Nades, an avid cricket fanatic and resident of PNG since 1976, the Cricket PNG business has grown significantly to a stage where it can provide the funding and commercial support to make the dream of turf wickets a reality. “Thanks to Wayne Satchell's constant encouragement I became involved with the Cricket Board and was elected as Chairman in 2005”, stated Mr Nades.

“What you see today is a vastly different Amini Park, Colts Cricket ground and Ken Lifu reserve. Cricket PNG now has a full-time administration, with 10 full-time staff and we are currently recruiting for another 24 full-time and part-time positions as part of our junior development team”, stated Nades. “It is true that the vision that Veari had way back in 1999 has led us in many ways to where we are headed today and the joy we have in breaking ground on the developments at Amini Park and Colts are in many ways attributable to Veari and his then Board back in 1999. In 1999 Mr Maha estimated the costs of a Cricket Stadium to be K2.2Million. In today's economy just putting in turf wickets at Colts Cricket Ground and Amini has a material and labour cost of over K1 Million and we would not be doing this without some help from our friends.”

“To be able to achieve what we are now doing is due to the significant support of local businesses such as Hebou Constructions, Monier, the Constantinou family, Brian Bell, Badili Hardware, Esco, Central Drillers, BSP, Cricket Queensland, Cricket Australia, the Gabba Trust, Air Niugini, Jimboomba Turf and our cricket loving supporters, players, POMCA executive and its clubs”.

Cricket and AFL football have very strong traditional links and the project and the developments at the venues is welcomed and supported by AFL PNG Oceania Development Manager for AFL, Andrew Cadzow and AFL PNG Game Development Manager Walter Yagomina. Mr Yagomina stated, “The work already completed within the three grounds is amazing. The surface improvements, the careful planning, the reclaiming of unused ground, the positioning and development of the facilities is also exciting for AFL PNG. Cricket PNG and AFL PNG signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to develop facilities and our codes together, back in November 2009. The developments at Colts Cricket Ground, Ken Lifu reserve and Amini Park will support the long-term growth of AFL football in PNG, stated Mr Yagomina.

According to Leane, the turf wickets will be up and running in four months.

“The work at Amini Park and Colts is scheduled to have the grounds and wickets ready for the international series between the Australian Indigenous XI and PNG in late July."

Once the renovations are completed at the Colts Ground, Amini Park and Ken Lifu Reserve, Cricket PNG will also be in the running to host future World Cricket League tournaments and keen followers will have observed the advantage that is had by the host country in previous events.