The full Cook Islands national cricket squad in Auckland. - 22090415
Cook Islands have managed to break into the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 International (T20I) rankings following a strong show at the regional tournament earlier this month.
The national team is ranked 55
from 82 teams in the Twenty20 International rankings.
Cook Islands took part in the East
Asia Pacific Sub-Regional Qualifying Tournament in Vanuatu this month where the
side finished third behind the host and Fiji (on net run rate).
In the international rankings
released yesterday, Vanuatu is placed 45 while Fiji and Samoa are ranked 62 and
At the Qualifier, the national
side made a poor start losing the opening two matches to Samoa and Fiji before
causing a major upset to beat favourites Vanuatu in the final match of round
one. In round two, Cook Islands defeated Samoa and Fiji but fell short against
Vanuatu in the deciding match.
Cook Islands Cricket
Association president Grant Walker said he was proud of the team’s effort at
the Qualifier that resulted in the nation’s first ever rankings in the adjusted
Walker said an adjustment by
ICC to include associate members like the Cook Islands in the T20I rankings
have opened up pathways for development and international opportunities.
At the Qualifier held in Port
Vila, Walker said they were up against teams that were better equipped and
prepared for the tournament.
He said given the 60 days
preparation period without a proper facility for training, the Rarotonga and
New Zealand-based players did well to beat the top teams at the Qualifier.
Walker said they were also
fortunate to get the services of head coach Craig Murray and a dedicated support
team led by manager Rahul Patil.
Apart from captain Ma’ara Ave,
who plays first class domestic level cricket in New Zealand, the rest of the
players were “amateurs”, he said.
Walker said Ave was the “darling
of the tournament” after finishing with Player of the Tournament and Batsman of
the Tournament awards.
The clip of Cook Islands’
final over win against Samoa garnered over 1.3 million views and over 70,000
likes on the ICC Instagram page, he said.
“Something like this is
unheard of in the Cooks. Our games were livestreamed on ICC TV which has
something like 13 million subscribers and it was actually available for betting
on bet365 … it just shows what the possibilities could be if we are able to
play at that level.”
Walker said they were invited
to participate in a Pacific Cricket Challenge to be held next year featuring
Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu. The tournament organised by the
Australian and New Zealand defence forces will also feature women’s teams from
these countries. The countries will play in round robin competition and the
matches will be considered for the T20I rankings.
Walker said one of the major
challenges for the association was getting the funding to prepare and take the
men’s and women’s teams to this event.
“We know that Cook Islands is
competitive in this sport so we will be looking for fundings to get us to this
tournament in March.”
India is the top ranked T20I
side followed by England in second place and South Africa third.