Multi-sport athlete Richard Goodwin helping to lead Philippines cricket rise

The Carabaos have been competing in the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Muscat

Richard Goodwin bats for the Philippines during the ICC World T20 Global Qualifier A match against Canada in Muscat. Photo: Subas Humagain
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Given cricket is a fledgling sport in the country, it is no surprise the Philippines national team includes a few crossover athletes for their assignment in Oman this week.

During their second match of the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Muscat, which ended in defeat to Nepal, Richard Goodwin opened the bowling. A day earlier, against Canada, he had done similar with the bat.

To term him an all-rounder rather undersells the point. Cricket is the third sport at which Goodwin has represented the Philippines. He has previously played for the Tamaraws rugby league side, and the Volcanoes in union’s abridged format of sevens.

As if that all is not remarkable enough, consider the fact Goodwin only took up cricket in his 20s having excelled at baseball first – 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 a little bit of college ball,” Goodwin, 34, said.

“Once I got to 23 I felt I’d done that for a long time, played a lot of baseball, and had a few mates wanting to play cricket from the [rugby] football team, so decided we’d play cricket.

“The skills transferred over really well. I absolutely loved it, from the social side and also the competitiveness of it.”

Goodwin was born in the Philippines, and moved to Australia with his Filipina mother when he was six. He grew up playing baseball and rugby union, before focusing on the former when he was 16.

He played for the Philippines national league team from 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 crack, too.

Richard Goodwin has opened the batting and the bowling for the Philippines at the ICC World T20 Global Qualifier. Photo: Subas Humagain

“There was a tournament in the Philippines. A mate tagged me in on that, and at that time I was playing cricket and playing quite well,” Goodwin said.

“I thought, I’ve got to reach out to these guys, this looks awesome. I had a few training sessions with Jono [Hill, the Philippines captain], and that is how I got into it.”

The Carabaos – the water buffalo which is native to the Philippines and which the cricket team have adopted as their nickname – made it to the Qualifier after beating Vanuatu to a place in the event.

Placed No 47 in the ICC’s T20 standings, they are the lowest-ranked side in the event by quite some distance. As such, their struggles in two defeats so far have been understandable.

According to Faisal Khan, the Philippine Cricket Association chief executive, just being in the company of more experienced opposition is a boon for the team.

Richard Goodwin dives during a rugby league international representing the Philippines. Courtesy Richard Goodwin

“This is the highest level we have ever played,” Faisal said. “I have to be very realistic and say this is 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 be beating someone who is above us in the rankings.”

The CEO has lived in Manila for the past 34 years, having arrived from cricket-mad Karachi as a 20-year-old student. He has overseen the growth of the game from one-club, weekend social cricket to a 24-team men’s league, and a five-team, all-Filipina women’s league.

“When I first arrived I didn’t know they played cricket,” he said. “Then a friend told me there is a place in Manila and they brought me there.

“I found out there were a couple of teams who played between themselves every weekend. That is how I got involved in cricket.

Richard Goodwin represented Australia at baseball at U23 level. Courtesy Richard Goodwin

“I felt there was so much room for improvement. We could create a proper league. We started with only three teams. It grew to six, and now there are 24 teams.”

The evidence so far in Muscat proves there is still some way to go before the national team are a match for those sides shooting for places at World Cups.

Goodwin, though, says that now they have had a taste of this level of competition, it has made them keen for more.

“We are in awe of these guys, but in saying that, we are here to compete,” Goodwin said. “We are here to do our absolute best, because who knows if we’ll get this opportunity again, especially for myself being 34. 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 are just relishing every part of it.”

Updated: February 21, 2022, 4:22 AM