2 Mar 2018

Taylor going into bat for Pacific cricket

7:39 am on 2 March 2018

Star Black Caps cricketer Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, known to most as Ross Taylor, says he would like the sport to promote him as a role model to Pacific Islanders.

Ross Taylor celebrates his 18th ODI century.

Ross Taylor celebrates his 18th ODI century. Photo: Photosport

Taylor is one of the top scoring batsmen in New Zealand cricket history.

He's also the only Black Cap to have scored 290 in an away game against Australia and is one of only three New Zealanders with 17 test centuries under his belt.

As the commentators praise his on-field exploits, less often mentioned is his Samoan heritage.

Taylor said he grew up knowing it was never the norm for island kids to play cricket.

"You know, they are very physical people, big, and are exposed to rugby. I think once they're exposed to cricket [and] the more parents who are exposed to cricket as a sport, they might be able to push that onto their kids as well."

Taylor said his Samoan heritage should be promoted more, so Pasifika kids know they have every potential of becoming international cricket stars.

"There's not a lot of [pacific] players who have played to be role models. I think New Zealand cricket probably need to use me in a promotional form, getting into the schools, promoting myself and my Samoan ethnicity."

"There's actually a lot of kids who think I'm Māori and not Samoan so I still get that quite often when I'm doing autographs after games."

Murphy Su'a was the first Pacific Islander to make the New Zealand Black Caps team in 1992.

He's now on the Auckland cricket board and is committed to improving the diversity of New Zealand cricket.

Mr Su'a said Pasifika kids were showing huge potential in the sport, but lacked the funding support to keep them in the game.

"A lot of Pacific Island boys, you know, they're amazing cricketers, but they've been offered scholarships already for rugby. So we've got a real challenge there to retain and keep kids in the game."

He said a lack of diversity in cricket could be seen at all levels, including at the very top. He said it was encouraging to see a few Pacific people coming through the ranks but believed they should be promoted more.

"Sean Solia from Auckland and James Baker from Northern Districts, both of Samoan heritage, they've played for New Zealand A's as recent as last year, so there are kids coming through even in the Under 19s.

"So the dynamics are changing, but how do we actually continue to showcase that? We have to look at what are the pipelines to keep them playing from school or looking at alternative ways to retain these kids."

New Zealand Head of Community cricket, Adrian Dales, said Māori and Pacific people only made up about five percent of the entire grassroots cricket population.

He said cricket needed to be promoted at schools where it wasn't a popular sporting choice.

"I think we need to get cricket into some more schools, some of the more non-traditional schools. I think what has happened over time is that cricket has become more and more the domain of traditional schools."

He said Pacific people had a natural propensity towards sport and had every ounce of potential to become the next Ross Taylor.

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