[caption id="attachment_677327" align="aligncenter" width="628"]<img class="size-full wp-image-677327" alt="A child in Niue (representational image). Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons" src="https://www.cricketcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Avatele_Beach.jpg" width="628" height="355" /> A child in Niue (representational image). Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons[/caption] <p></p> <p></p><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/tag/niue" target="_blank">Niue</a> is not a nation you typically associate with cricket. For that matter, you don t associate Niue with most things. In fact, there are chances that you are not aware of exactly where Niue is. <p></p> <p></p>For the uninitiated, Niue is a breathtakingly beautiful island nation about 2,400 north-east of New Zealand. The population, surrounded by a magnificent barrier reef, is about three thousand. However, that has not prevented them from featuring consistently in the top forty in the Rugby League International Federations rankings. <p></p> <p></p>That, however, is not surprising, for all their neighbours have traditionally been excellent rugby sides. At the time of writing this, the top ten countries include six from Oceania. <p></p> <p></p>There has been cricket too, albeit not in its most conventional form. In fact, the Niuean language has its own words for cricket jargon: <i>punipuni</i> (to defend), <i>uka</i> (a draw), <i>pamu</i> (a full-toss), <i>teka</i> (to bowl), <i>olo</i> (wickets), <i>mate olo</i> (to get out bowled), <i>faimoa</i> (to score a duck), <i>goi</i> (to stump), <i>tulipolo</i> (to field), and so on. <p></p> <p></p>A piece by Tony Munro in the 2006 <i>Wisden</i> describes a Niuean cricket match like this: The fielder, high in a coconut tree, throws the ball to one of his 39 teammates at ground level, desperate to prevent his opponent completing the maximum sixth run. <p></p> <p></p>Nothing in that description sounds like the sport we know, and yet somehow everything does. <p></p> <p></p>The ball is made of rubber. The bat, well, triangular making one wonder whether the sport in question is really cricket or <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/kilikiti-or-kirikiti-crickets-nearest-relative-283784">kilikiti, cricket s nearest kin that has graduated to the level of having its own World Cup</a>. <p></p> <p></p>Forty-a-side teams are hardly surprising, for these matches are often inter-village, often culminating in gala feasts. Cricket is also a part of their annual October festival (Niue had attained self-Government in association with New Zealand on October 19, 1974). <p></p> <p></p>If you think watching eighty men bat will make it sound strenuous for the spectators, think again: there are forty fielders, and none of them is hesitant to recover the ball from anywhere (and by that I mean <i>anywhere</i>). There is also a tip-and-run rule in place, probably on the lines of baseball, so matches get over soon. <p></p> <p></p>But none of these is the most astounding aspect of cricket in Niue. Eyebrows are raised when something unusual happens, a series of ducks [I wish Munro had used<i> faimoa</i> here] or getting out to an unlikely catch, for example. <p></p> <p></p>A time out is called by the team on the receiving end. Then the team holds a conference, for several people failing to score or a spectacular catch are nothing but ill omen brought upon by sins. The players are then subjected to interrogation on the lines of whether they have committed a sin adultery with the wife of a teammate included. <p></p> <p></p>Play is held up till one of the players actually confesses and pays a fine. Something tells me this is not something ICC would want to adopt anytime soon.