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Cricket Association looks at more team development

Monday 29 January 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Cricket Association looks at more team development
Women’s team at the Auckland University Cricket Club. SUPPLIED / 24012628

Cook Islands Cricket Association (CICA) is developing a New Zealand based training programme for their players, to work in conjunction with their local programme.

This month, the national team has been in Auckland, New Zealand, training and getting into shape at the Auckland University Cricket Club.

Association president Grant Walker says it was through Matt Taylor, the president of Auckland University Cricket Club (AUCC) and father of new national team player Oscar Taylor, that they were provided use of their new high-performance facility, the AUCC. 

“This really set the tone for our tour. It showed we are building an international level program despite our significant disadvantages, in population, remoteness, lack of facilities and most of all funding. 

“Our programme must be more flexible, smarter, and take advantage of every opportunity presented to match the size and power of the other countries. 

“I think we can achieve that.”

The programme got the women into shape and ready for the 2024 SouthSeas Pacific Cup International Women’s Tournament last week, where they finished in fifth place.

The training programme is also a boost for the men’s side for the 2024 ICC World Cup Men’s qualifier in Samoa later in the year.

Walker says: “We cannot expect to compete and succeed without some continuity. 

“So, we will be setting that up in the coming weeks looking to continue the programme after the New Zealand season ends on March 31.” 

Walker says the new T20 Super Slam is to start in Rarotonga from next month and it will focus on coaching, umpiring and scoring.

The T20 Super Slam will be held in a span of four months with four select men’s and four women’s teams which will be held every Saturday for three weeks with the fourth week off, a total of 12 games in four months.

He said they also have a collegiate series planned for the youth programme along with some programmes for the Pa Enua. 

However, Walker has reiterated the need to have a national training facility built in Rarotonga.

“If we want to develop cricket in the Cooks, we need better facilities. We need a national oval, as we are the only country in the world with two international rankings and no legal playing field.”

He says Cook Islands will be in the Pacific Cup for the next several years, along with their International Cricket Council (ICC) pathway commitments. 

“We’ve developed a lot of support, and we will build on that, but as always it will come down to whether we can get sufficient funding and sponsorship to keep our momentum and programme going.”

He said Cook Islands have to play countries that have a combined 200 times more than Cook Islands funding. 

“What we’ve done to date has been incredible, and people have taken notice.  As I like to say “if Goliath beats David it’s not news, but when David wins, it’s a Bible story”.  We plan to make history.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Walker attended the ICC EAP Regional Conference held at the New Zealand Cricket offices where he was able to advance the cause of CICA. 

He talked about the challenges, the potential support programs, and formed plans to work cooperatively with the other regional members. 

 “We don’t want to keep rotating games and ranking points against each other, we are developing pathways to bring other regions into our area for competitions.  I think the natural beauty of our region can be leveraged into cricket tourism, benefiting all of us”.

Coach Tomakanute Ritawa and Makiroa Mato attended the first ICC Master Educator Umpiring Tutor course allowing them to hold local clinics and issue level one umpiring credentials to those that complete them. 

Walker says “This is a key to building back up our umpiring programme.  It will alleviate the need for a trainer to be brought in from overseas, and give us a better reach and approach, it’s a game changer.”