Given that cricket is a nascent sport in the country, it’s no surprise that the Philippines national team is including a few crossover athletes for their assignment in Oman this week.
In their second T20 World Cup qualifier in Muscat, which ended in a loss to Nepal, Richard Goodwin opened the bowling. A day earlier, against Canada, he had done the same with the bat.
Calling him an all-rounder rather understates the point. Cricket is the third sport in which Goodwin has represented the Philippines. He previously played for rugby league team Tamaraws and the Volcanoes in the union’s short sevens format.
As if all of that wasn’t remarkable enough, consider the fact that Goodwin didn’t take up cricket until he was 20 after first excelling in baseball – a sport in which he represented Australia. up to under-23 level.
“I grew up playing baseball at a very high level and even went to America to play college ball a bit,” said Goodwin, 34.
“Once I turned 23, I felt that I had been doing this for a long time, had played a lot of baseball and had a few friends who wanted to play cricket from the [rugby] football team, so I decided to play cricket.
“The skills have been transferred very well. I absolutely loved it, from the social side and also from its competitiveness.
Goodwin was born in the Philippines and moved to Australia with his Filipina mother when he was six years old. He grew up playing baseball and rugby, before focusing on the former at the age of 16.
He has played for the Philippines national league team since its formation in 2012 and in the other code he went to the Shanghai Sevens in the same year.
Then he thought he would give cricket a chance too.
“There was a tournament in the Philippines. A buddy tagged me on it, and at the time I was playing cricket and playing pretty well,” Goodwin said.
“I thought, I have to reach out to these guys, this looks awesome. I had some practice with Jono [Hill, the Philippines captain]and that’s how I got into it.
The Carabaos – the water buffalo originally from the Philippines and which the cricket team has adopted as a nickname – advanced to qualifying after beating Vanuatu for a place in the event.
Placed 47th in the ICC T20 rankings, they are by far the lowest ranked team in the event. As such, their two-game struggles so far have been understandable.
According to Faisal Khan, the general manager of the Philippine Cricket Association, just being in the company of more experienced opponents is a boon to the team.
“It’s the highest level we’ve ever played,” Faisal said. “I have to be very realistic and say it’s way above our height. We are not looking to win the tournament, we are looking to participate and gain experience at this level.
“If we are able to beat any team at this tournament, we will beat someone who is above us in the standings.”
The CEO has lived in Manila for 34 years, having arrived from cricket-mad Karachi when he was 20. He oversaw the growth of the game from a weekend social cricket club to a 24-team men’s league and an all-Filipino five-team women’s league.
“When I arrived I didn’t know they were playing cricket,” he said. “Then a friend told me there was a place in Manila and they took me there.
“I discovered that there were a few teams that played with each other every weekend. That’s how I got involved in cricket.
“I felt there was so much room for improvement. We could create a real league. We started with just three teams. It grew to six, and now there are 24 teams.
The evidence so far in Muscat proves that there is still some way to go before the national team is a game for teams vying for World Cup places.
Goodwin, however, says now that they’ve had a taste of that level of competition, it’s left them wanting more.
“We’re impressed with these guys, but saying that, we’re here to compete,” Goodwin said. “We are here to give our best, because who knows if we will have this opportunity again, especially for me who is 34 years old. We are definitely here to compete and fight.
“When I was out there batting, I was like, oh wow, I’ve never faced anything like this before. We’re relishing every part of it.
Updated: February 21, 2022, 04:22