Kilikiti is one of several forms of the game of cricket. Originating in Samoa (English missionaries introduced their game of cricket in the early 19th century), it spread throughout Polynesia and can now be found around the world in areas with strong Polynesian populations. The game is the national sport of Samoa, and is played in many other Pacific countries, including amongst the Pacific Islander diaspora in New Zealand.
Form of the game
The ball is made of a very hard rubber wrapped in pandanus. Players are not protected by any padding or masks, and will often wear only a lava-lava. The sennit-wrapped wooden bats are modeled on the three-sided Samoan war club called the "lapalapa," which are based on the stalk of coconut fronds. Bats are shaped to individual players' likings and can be over a meter long; because the striking surface of the bat is angled (just as the "lapalapa" club and the coconut frond stalk), the path of a hit ball is extremely hard to predict.
The rules of kilikiti are flexible. Indeed, the majority of reports written on the game simply say that the rules can only be known by those playing.
Similarities to cricket
There is a batting team, a fielding team, and a pitch (sometimes of concrete). The bowl alternates between two bowlers, one at each end of the pitch; accordingly, there are two wicket keepers (this as opposed to the single wicket keeper in cricket).
Major points on which kilikiti differs from cricket
There is no limit to team size, and teams are made up of whoever turns up regardless of gender or age. Tourist accounts mention that strangers are often welcomed. Players are typically all-rounders. A kilikiti game is a multi-day community event full of singing, dancing, and feasting. Entire villages will compete and everyone will be involved, whether as player, cook, or spectator. (According to one source, the only universal rule is that the host team forfeits if it cannot provide enough food.)
The New Zealand Kilikiti Association (NZKA) is working to standardize the rules of kilikiti. In 1999 the NZKA started a national tournament, called the Supercific Kilikiti Tournament, and in 2001 it introduced the international World Cup Kilikiti Tournament. Games have been cut to a television-friendly 70 minutes (2 innings, the first being 30 minutes long and the second bowling the same number of balls as the first). The NZKA has also added the scoring of 4s and 6s.
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