More than 400 players or volunteers are expected to participate at this year’s Imparja Cup, the premier all-Indigenous cricket tournament that gets underway in Alice Springs on Monday (11 February). 28 teams from across Australia will be competing in four divisions during the week before finals are held on Saturday 16 February.
This year’s Imparja Cup sees a number of special guests, with former international players Colin Miller, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Matthew Elliott and Ashley Mallett in attendance for parts of the tournament.
The growth in teams includes the first ever interstate women’s team competing (New South Wales) along with the first appearance of the Cooktown Crocs in the community division. This team will travel over 2600 kilometres from one of the most northern towns of Australia in the tropics to be part of the tournament in the red centre.
Each state and territory is represented at the 2008 Imparja Cup with Twenty20, 40-overs per side and Super 8s cricket to be played during the four-day tournament.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the Imparja Cup was a major part of cricket’s on-going strategy.
“We are committed to fostering a greater connection between cricket and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. That stems from our strategic blueprint to grow the participation base, broaden the reach and promotion of cricket and support talented indigenous players through the pathway to the elite end.
“There is a great desire within cricket to see an indigenous cricketer wearing the baggy green” said Mr Sutherland.
“Each year the Imparja Cup expands to engage more people in the pinnacle event that highlights the skill and talent of Australia’s indigenous cricketers.
“The Imparja Cup is another example that cricket is a game not just for white Anglo-Saxons, but for all Australians “said Mr Sutherland.
Teams contesting the state and territory division will play a mix of Twenty20 and 40 overs per side cricket with a 50 overs per side final. New South Wales broke Queensland’s three year winning streak by taking the title in 2007 and Queensland will be determined to regain the mantle as the best indigenous team in the land. Western Australia finished off last years titles strongly and is expected to challenge the traditional strength of New South Wales and Queensland in this competition.
The major centres division will do battle in a Twenty20 challenge while the Northern Territory community division and the women’s competition will play under Super 8s conditions.
First held in 1994 as a Northern Territory community-based event between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, the Imparja Cup has grown to become a premier fixture on the Australian cricket calendar.
The 2008 event begins Monday (11 February), with an official dinner taking place at the Pioneer Park Racecourse, Alice Springs Turf Club, on Friday, culminating in the state/territory division final under lights at Traeger Park on Saturday 16 February.
The Imparja Cup is hosted by Northern Territory Cricket and Cricket Australia.
photo Dan Vernon
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photo Dan Vernon