With Twenty20 cricket having a worldwide fan following, it is little wonder that Japanese students want to learn more about New Zealand’s most popular summer sport from the Kiwis themselves.
In a specially arranged session by Neville Nair, teacher in charge of cricket at Pakuranga Intermediate, held at the Howick Pakuranga Cricket Club, around 18 visiting Japanese exchange students were learning batting, catching and bowling skills for the first time.
Mr Nair says that while baseball is a very popular sport in Japan, it is not difficult to transfer the skills from baseball to cricket.
Seishi Takahashi, the coordinator who brings the exchange students to Pakuranga Intermediate every alternate year, says it is a novel experience for the students.
Twelve-year-old Noah Scordino from Pakuranga Intermediate says that last year when he visited Japan, he went to the same school as the Japanese students in the city of Sunmi.
“I think Keita Suzuki who is an ace at baseball is doing rather well in picking up cricket,” he says.
Francis Scordino, who is on the board of trustees at Pakuranga Intermediate, says there is an interest in cricket being added to the sporting options of school students in Japan.
“As I understand it, there has been discussion at New Zealand national level regarding this, and given that Japanese students were visiting the school, it seemed a perfect opportunity for them to have a go and then provide feedback in Japan.”
Also training the students to play cricket is Danru Ferns, who is the Howick and Pakuranga Cricket Club’s cricket development officer.
Part of his role is to work closely with the junior section of the club in providing coaching and training. The club has a new strategic plan which includes working closely with all local schools in the region, and offering them cricket coaching and tournament opportunities.