Trobriand cricket refers to a unique version of the bat-and-ball sport cricket played by the Trobriand Islanders. They were first exposed to the game by Christian missionaries, who thought the game would discourage war among the natives. However, the game was quickly adapted to Trobriand culture by expanding the number of players, adding dances and chanting, and modifying the bats and balls. Since war between groups on the island was banned, cricket began to incorporate many of the traditional practices associated with war for the Trobriand people. The game also reflects the objects of powers introduced to the islands by its British colonizers and American troops during World War II.
In the Trobriand Islands, kayasa is a form of obligatory, competitive activity done traditionally in the form of ritual warfare. Warfare with spears was replaced by cricket, as a peaceful way of continuing kayasa. Trobriand cricket has been altered such that the home team is always the winner. There are no restrictions on the number of players on a team; thus, a team can have as many as 40 or 50 players.
Before the match, the ball and bats are given to a local spiritual leader who blesses the equipment for good luck. Also, this leader works on ensuring good weather. Before the match, each team practices chants and dances to be performed at various times throughout the game.
Each outis followed by a celebratory dance, choreographedby the opposing team. These dances often have special meaning, commenting on the prowess of the team, their superior skills, or mocking the other team. These dances may also have sexual innuendosand eroticthemes.
Bowlingis doneunderarm(as insoftball), rather thanoverarmas in international cricket. This change came about because underhanded-bowled balls are less painful if they contact with a player.
There are ritual entrance and exit dances. One team had a mascot dressed as a tourist (dressed in bright colors, stopping in front of the performances to get a “close-up” view with his pretend binoculars). At the end of the match, there is an exchange of food, with the home team putting on the feast.