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Ready for opener

Thursday 8 September 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Ready for opener
Cook Islands cricket players enjoy their breakfast in Vanuatu ahead of their opening match this afternoon. Picture: RAHUL PATIL/22090714

Cook Islands cricket side is all set to face Samoa in its opening East Asia Pacific Sub-Regional Qualifying Tournament match this afternoon in Vanuatu.

The Ma’ara Ave-skippered side will battle Samoa in the crucial match that will get underway at 4.30pm (Cook Islands time).

The team arrived in Port Villa earlier this week after spending few days in Auckland where they trained with the New Zealand-based players and played three warm up matches against Tamaki Makaurau Tane which is an Auckland Maori Men’s cricket team.

Skipper Ave said the players have settled in well and were looking forward to their opening clash.

“The Rarotonga boys will be more in their element (as the conditions in Vanuatu is) bit close to home but for some of the boys based in NZ, it will be bit different but we got to acclimatise quickly,” said Ave.

“Half of the team is based in Cook Islands and half in New Zealand so it’s been good to get everyone together (last week) and get couple of good games against Auckland Maori team and then some good days of training. I think the team is coming together nicely.”

Ave, who plays in Plunket Shield – NZ’s domestic first-class cricket competition – said: “It’s been an honour to be asked to captain the team. Just putting on the Cook Islands colour is very special and I really look forward to getting involved in this tournament in Vanuatu.”

The Craig Murray-coached national side will take on Fiji and hosts Vanuatu in their remaining matches.

The tournament in Vanuatu will be played in a round robin format where teams will play each other twice.

“We don’t know too much about the opposition but we got a really good mix of young and experienced players and some really good talent … we will take one game at a time and I think we will end up pretty well if we do small things right,” Ave said.

The team with the most points qualifies for the next step which is the regional final. Papua New Guinea and Philippines have already secured their place in the regional final. They will be joined by the winner of the tournament in Vanuatu and the winner of another tournament to be played between Indonesia, South Korea and hosts Japan in October 2022.

The matches will be livestreamed on ICC.tv.

Cook Islands – Hori Miller, Benjamin George Vakatini, Davis Teinaki, Tomakanute Ritawa, Tomasi Wellington Vanuarua, Gabe Steven Raymond, Mea Tangi Me Ma’ara Joshua Ave, Cory Russell Dickson, Hayden Bob Dickson, Liam George Roderick Denny, William Teariki-Apainga Kokaua, Thomas Tereapii Nikau Parima, Aue Metua Parima, Danny Brent Simpson, Craig Murray – Team Coach, Rahul Patil – Team Manager. Non-travelling reserves – Pare Rongokea, Christopher Mana, Pati Ataela.