September 2012 Volume 9

Fortis From the Land of Your Breadfruit Ancestors - Kilikiti

Michael O. Walters
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Many of you will recall that Captain Bligh, of the Mutiny on the Bounty fame, brought the breadfruit to Jamaica from the Pacific.  I write this article from American Samoa, an island in the Pacific, the land of our breadfruit ancestors.

 I came here three weeks ago and am introducing you to Kilikiti (Samoan Cricket) quite similar to cricket as we know it, yet much different in some aspects.

First of all, the rules are flexible starting with the team size which generally consists of whoever shows up, men or women.  Like cricket though, there is a batting and a fielding team and a pitch (the pitches I have seen are concrete). Bowling alternates between two bowlers.  Unlike cricket, however, there are two wicketkeepers. 

Players are typically all-rounders and the bat and ball are different from cricket.  The bat is three-sided, wooden, and wrapped in cordage (see photo).  At over a meter long it is longer that a cricket bat.  In addition, the three-sided nature makes it difficult to predict the movement of the ball once hit.

 The ball is made of rubber wrapped in the leaves of the palm-like plant Pandanus.  The ball I held was smaller than a tennis ball, felt rubbery, and was soft in comparison to a cricket ball; hence no protective gear is used.

 If you look carefully at the photo with the batsman you will notice a ball approaching.  At the games I have seen, both men and women are colorfully dressed in lava lava (their skirt-like wrap), or large basketball shorts.    

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