Papua New Guinea have qualified for the World T20. Without looking stuff up, let’s all share everything we know about Papua New Guinea

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What follows is not intended to be a celebration of ignorance. It is an acknowledgement of ignorance and maybe a celebration of how sport can eat away at it just a little bit.

Papua New Guinea have qualified for the World T20. The magnificently named Norman Vanua made 54 off 48 balls to get them a key win over Kenya after they’d been 19-6 after four overs.

We don’t know much about the country of Papua New Guinea. Without a flimsy cricket pretext, we doubt we’d have added to our unimaginably limited knowledge any time soon. World T20 qualification means that we’re interested in the place more immediately.

For a long time, we were unusually well-informed about Papua New Guinea compared to most people we knew. This is because the average child doesn’t know a single thing about Papua New Guinea and when we were about ten, we read a kids’ book about it.

We use the term “unusually well-informed” very generously because the book in question arguably wasn’t a 100 per cent fair and accurate depiction of Papua New Guinea and the people who live there. We don’t know this for a fact, because we’ve barely added to our Papua New Guinea knowledge since then. It’s just a faint suspicion we have; one that you may begin to comprehend when we give you the title of the book in the next sentence.

The book in question was Cannibal Adventure by Willard Price.

We’ll give you that title again in case it didn’t quite register the first time around. The children’s book we are talking to you about right now is called Cannibal Adventure.

Cannibal Adventure is about two brothers, Hal and Roger, who travel the world studying and maybe capturing animals. We’ve half a mind they were conservationists, but in a 1970s kind of a way, which means they probably did more harm than good.

The conservativism was really just a pretext for them to go on adventures though. (Or rather ‘Adventures’ because the other Willard Price books about Hal and Roger are: Amazon Adventure (1949), South Sea Adventure (1952), Underwater Adventure (1954), Volcano Adventure (1956), Whale Adventure (1960), African Adventure (1963), Elephant Adventure (1964), Safari Adventure (1966), Lion Adventure (1967), Gorilla Adventure (1969), Diving Adventure (1970), Tiger Adventure (1979) and Arctic Adventure (1980).

From what we remember about Cannibal Adventure, Hal and Roger did actually meet some cannibals, or at least some people who’d once been cannibals and had since given it up. We’re pretty sure Roger found some shrunken desiccated human heads too.

Other than that, we learned that Papua New Guinea has some pretty mad animals, like Komodo dragons, and that crocodiles are surprisingly fast runners (which isn’t really a Papua New Guinea fact, it’s a crocodile fact).

We thought we’d also read about Papua New Guinea in Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, but turns out that it merely has a chapter about Komodo dragons in it and we’d assumed they’d gone to see them in Papua New Guinea because that’s all we know about Papua New Guinea. They actually went to see them on the island of Komodo, which is in Indonesia and we’re now wondering whether Papua New Guinea even has Komodo dragons at all, in which case our limited knowledge of Papua New Guinea somehow just deteriorated further.

What do you know about Papua New Guinea? No googling.


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  1. Geraint Jones was born there. That’s just about all I know.

    And where it is – over on the right a bit. Doesn’t it have a straight line as a border through its middle on a (UK) map? That means it’s totally been colonised at some point – then uncolonised and presumably some large mess left by Europeans. But that might not be right at all.

    I am equally thrilled at the excuse to exterminate a tiny portion of this ignorance.

    Willard Price: the books that got me into reading. I can’t believe they’ve aged that well.

    1. Yes the island (not sure of the name of the island) has PNG on the East and the Indonesian province of Papua/West Papua on the West, I believe there is a free papua movement.

  2. I know that Papua New Guinea is the nation with the most languages per person in the world, it has hundreds of distinct languages spoken by only a few dozen people in isolated towns and villages. The ‘official’ language is English I think, in a ‘speak this if you want to be modern and urban’ sadly post colonial kinda way.

    There was a Bruce Parry doco (might have been an alternate channel approximation of Bruce Parry) called Return of the Tribe not too long ago where they asked some of PNG’s native tribespeople to visit London, after Parry had spent some doco time with them. It was enlightening.

    1. We saw that. We said “Ah shite” about it.

      That might be the full extent of our Shakib Al Hasan ban coverage.

      1. It’s like the General Election. If we all pretend it’s not happening, maybe it will go away.

      2. As my kids grow older, I’ve replaced ‘shite’ with ‘poop’. I also use ‘mushrooms’, from shiitake mushrooms (I don’t know how the brain got there).

        As the kids hit teenage, I imagine I will go back to saying ‘shite’.

        Tl;dr, poop, I wish that hadn’t happened.

  3. I remember reading that book too. The only thing I remember about it was it had a very dangerous snake it. They were the kind of books your parents tried to force you to read because the time reading them was better spent than time wasted on your Commodore 64 oh no this is bringing back a lot of feelings

  4. I lived there for 3 years as a child in the early 1980s. I can confirm I only got eaten twice

  5. Funnily enough, I had a meeting and then lunch with a gentleman last week who is about to visit Papua New Guinea with his wife, just for the craic.

    This fact came to light when I asked him if he has any food preferences, to which he replied, “none whatsoever. My wife and I are going on holiday to Papua New Guinea at the end of November and I hope to try cannibal pie”.

    In the interests of full disclosure, the gentleman had a plain burger and greens for lunch in the restaurant.

    My own interest in the place started young – I mentioned this before recently – and posted a link to my blog piece about it:

    Several people have looked at that link today prior to me posting this comment – have some KC folk have googling, perchance?

  6. I know bugger all about Papua New Guinea, so I did Google the place. I won’t ruin the knowing-things-about Papua New Guinea game, other than mentioning the following pearl of wisdom:

    “Leftovers, sugarcane, and coconut milk are consumed while people work in their gardens.”

    Leftovers? Hmm.

  7. Didn’t David Attenborough’s Planet Earth have a segment on paradise birds that was shot in PNG? Also, Jared Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ starts off with a PNG man asking why foreigners have all the ‘cargo’ and they don’t.

    Extremely happy that PNG has now entered the cricketing lexicon.

  8. It’s surprisingly near Australia (which I learned when looking into (prohibitively expensive and convoluted) options to travel there from Oz during the last Ashes winter, in a naive bid to go and see the Paradise Birds) and it also shares its name (in initialism form) with a digital image format popular for when a smaller file size is preferred over image quality.

    1. PNG is so near to australia that Australia have an agreement to extradite asylum seekers to PNG I think

  9. My aunt lived there for five years in the 80s.
    One of their apparently many languages is a sort of pidgin English and the name for Prince Philip is something like ‘Fella Bilongto the Queen’.
    Now I have a creeping horror that this was just some kind of racist 1980s version of the truth, so have just googled to check.
    It turns out he’s actually “oldfella Pili-Pili him bilong Misis Kwin” but that’s in Tanna in Vanuatu.
    But apparently in PNG pidgin: magimiks bilong Yesus (Magimix belong Jesus) = helicopter
    So there we go.

    1. Of course. Miriam’s here sometimes. Suave is ‘active on Twitter’. No idea about Mahinda though.

      Why do you ask?

      1. Would’ve liked to know their thoughts on PNG, and some of the other stuff on your blog recently. Old is (often) gold, as they say 🙂

  10. Has anyone said Adiran Lam yet?

    Also, I think Geraint Jones played for PNG for a while after his ‘other’ cricket career ended? Haven’t looked it up to check, as per instructions.

    Shakib news is devastating for a number of reasons, not least my instinctive sense that he was ‘the sort of guy’ who wouldn’t go in for those back-door shenanigans. I wonder if The Hundred drafters were cognisant of this ban when they neglected to draft him?

  11. One of wife’s best friend’s parents grew up in PNG and her grandmother still lives there. I asked if she had any plans to go and visit anytime soon and she said no because they had spiders as big as your face.

    I also went to school with a guy from PNG – not much more to report but he was a pretty good bloke.

  12. My mate worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and got posted to Port Moresby for a couple of years, where Australia has quite a large embassy and compound which is colloquially known as “Fort Shit-scared” as Port Moresby is a very dodgy city and all the diplomats basically just spend their entire posting holed up in the place.

    The other thing about PNG I know is of course the Kokoda Track, which my Grandfather fought at in the 2nd world war and never ever talked about it. It holds a certain place in Australian history and thousands of us make the trek each year. It’s on my bucket list.

  13. Seeking lbking’s posting above reminded me that my friend Andy, with whom I grew up in the street and subsequently went to secondary school, did his medical placement in Papua New Guinea when qualifying to be a doctor.

    I also have some cine, although from a pre PNG era for Andy:

    Sister Fiona (also in the movie) now lives in Oz, so is not all that far from PNG, as others have said. Perth mind, so a mere 2,500 miles.

  14. Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” was prefaced by a conversation with a Papuan guy called Yali. Yali asked something like “why do you white guys have so much cargo (stuff)?”. Yali’s question frames the book on how Europeans came to dominate much of the world. It has always struck with me. I can’t do better without cheating.

  15. Thanks everyone. We’d much rather build a perception of a place through these kinds of unrelated half-remembered nuggets than by any other means. We didn’t think we’d get this much though. Hats off. Good work.

  16. My only “knowledge” of PNG comes through the book ‘Cycling Home from Siberia’ where the guy cycles/walks/whatever the Kokoda Trail and some other stuff. Made it sound like a good place to go if you like being decapitated by machete wielding maniacs

  17. It’s the only country in the world whose national sport is rugby league. Which surely makes it the greatest country in the world.

  18. Another one; however bad you think your government is, pity poor PNG. They have a 300-odd member parliament, and the largest party has 20 MPs. Cue utter shambles.

  19. In the early 80s, PNG were in some kind of associate members trophy held in the Midlands. I grew up in Cannock and we played PNG in a friendly.

    As a gangly teen I was gutted when Mick Cartwright got the nod ahead of me. I had to paint the wicket markings that show the area where bowlers can’t land after umpires delayed the start.

    One of the PNG players startled us by wandering barefooted. Our dog barked at him. They had red, yellow and black striped caps I think, quite English public school.

    Komodo is nowhere near PNG. And, yes, the western half of the island is Indonesia, home to massive human rights and environmental abuses linked to mining.

  20. Is looking in Wisden allowed. I’ll assume it is.

    PNG came 3rd in the ICC Trophy 1982, beating Bangladesh in the 3rd place play off. Zimbabwe won it with a very strong line up featuring DAG Fletcher. Some very one sided games, a side described as East Africa even though Kenya also participated. Israel didn’t finish the tournament. Their last game is down as “defaulted” although oddly Wisden has a score for the game.

    PNG never quite built on this success and seem to have slowly slipped down the rankings in the 80s and 90s where my research has currently reached. New associate powers were emerging, Netherlands, Kenya, Scotland, Ireland. News of Millennial PNG to follow.

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