Cricket in Indonesia
There are a number of records of cricket being played in Indonesia from the 1880s to the 1960s, however the details are limited. There are records of Singapore Cricket Club going on a cricket tour to Batavia (as well as other cities in Asia) in the 1880s1. In the book ‘Tales from far Pavilions’ there is a short story about somebody who played for the Batavia British Club (the year isn’t mentioned). There is also verbal information from cricketers in Jakarta that there was a cricket ground in the Monas area used from the end of the second world war until around 1966 when it was commandeered by the Indonesian government for the building of the National Monument.
According to information currently available cricket died in Indonesia from 1966 to the early 1980s. Cricket stared up again in Jakarta in 1981 and since then has grown steadily. Other than Jakarta there is a strong foundation in Bali, where a number of Indonesians play, and there are records of cricket having been played in Bandung, Cilegon, Flores, Kupang, Lombok, Makasar, Medan, Palembang, Pekanbaru, Pulau Roti, Sangatta, Semarang, Sumbawa and Surabaya.
Cricket's Introduced to Kupang
In September 1995, a veterinarian and also cricket enthusiast, Bruce Christie arrived in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, for a work placement. Bruce was keen to share the game with the locals and was also keen to provide his son, David, at the time eleven years old, the opportunity to continue playing the game whilst away from Australia. As a result, in early 1996 he started to teach the game to a number of Indonesians (who he had got to know through an Australian teacher Rosie Wheen), on the tennis courts within his works complex (at Jalan Timtim km 7, Oesapa, Kupang), and also arranged friendly games with these locals and a number of expatriate colleagues at the Kupang football stadium. Soni Hawoe, one of Bruce’s first students commented “At first the rules were quite complex, but as we had experience of playing kasti (a game resembling baseball played in Indonesian schools) we soon became used to the game.”
The NTTCC is formed and tours Bali
Bruce often visited Bali, and while there took the opportunity to play cricket with the BICC. At the end of 1996 he came up with an ambitious plan, to put together a team from Kupang and travel to Bali to challenge the BICC.
In September 1997 his plans came to fruition with a cricket tour to Bali by a team he named the East Nusa Tenggara Cricket Club (NTTCC). The NTTCC team was made up of seven foreigners and four Indonesians, the funding for the trip made by a number of benefactors in Kupang. The NTTCC played well enough, but eventually lost by 179 runs to 125. Although they lost the Indonesian players in the NTTCC team much appreciated the opportunity to travel to Bali, and their enthusiasm for the game of cricket was established.
After that Rosie moved to Nembrala, Pulau Roti (not far from Kupang), where, along with two Indonesians who had played in Kupang, she taught the game to her students. In June 1998 Bruce’s team from Kupang made its second cricket tour, to Pulau Roti, this time the Kupang team included six Indonesians and five foreigners, the Pulau Roti team was exclusively Indonesian. Kupang emerged the victors!
Bali's Gain is Kupang's loss
Cricket continued in Kupang until Bruce returned to Australia in September 1998. At the time a number of local players had become very enthusiastic about the game, and Bruce discussed their situation with a good friend at the BICC, Alan Wilson. Alan offered to provide them with employment on the grounds of a guesthouse he runs near Jimbaran, along with the opportunity to play cricket in Bali with the expatriate community.
Three of them, Soni, Zacharia Awang and Yeri Rosonga were very happy to take up this offer and moved to Bali in September 1998. They played cricket once a week and also received training from an Australian who had played to a high standard at home, Ray Elliott. A few months later, Soni, Zach and Yeri were followed by two more friends from Kupang, Melven Ndoen and Bernadus Ely, and over the course of time they were joined by friends they had got to know in Bali. The nucleus of Indonesian cricket was beginning to emerge.
Cricket Spreads across Indonesia but NTT is left behind
The originals began to spread cricket across Indonesia. Through funding from the ICC Melvin, Soni, Yeri, Zack and Bena became the driving force behind the growth of cricket in Indonesia. They grew cricket in Bali and Java establishing cricket into the schools and setting up clubs throughout these areas. In 1998 there were approximately 20 Indonesians playing cricket. By 2015 there are many thousands playing across the country, due in no small part to these five NTTCC cricketers. All five represented Indonesia at ICC East Asia Pacific competitions around the world and have had the opportunity to travel to countries they never would have dreamed possible. Soni even met the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard, at the SCG in 2001. All five continue today to coach and mentor up and coming cricketers in Java, Kalimantan and Bali, and still make up the majority of the Indonesian coaches.
However in expanding cricket to other parts of Indonesia no-one was left behind to keep the game progressing back in Kupang.(Source: "The History and Development of Cricket in Indonesia", by Noel Matthews, 2004)