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Trained, blessed, and ready for take-off

Thursday 1 September 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Cricket, Sports

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Trained, blessed, and ready for take-off
The Cook Islands national men’s cricket squad after having their uniforms blessed on Tuesday at the Lucky Rooster. - 22083109

The Cook Islands national men’s cricket squad departs today for Auckland, the first stop on the road to the East Asia Pacific Sub-Regional Qualifying Tournament in Vanuatu.

The national side, coached by Craig Murray will take on Fiji, Samoa and host team Vanuatu from September 9 to 15 in Vanuatu.

The tournament is part of T-20 Cricket World Cup qualifiers. The winner of this tournament will then go to another qualifying tournament playing the Philippians, Papua New Guinea, and another team to be decided, to see who will play in the world cup.

Team manager Rahul Patil said the team was very excited.

“People have not left the island for such a long time so for some of them going overseas is a massive thing, let alone to play cricket,” Patil said.

“It’s been a long time since a cricket team from the Cook Islands has gone anywhere so it’s a really exciting time for the team.”

Patil said he thought it was about six or seven years ago since the last national cricket team competed overseas.

He said the national team was looking good.

“We’ve got a good mix of young and experienced players. We’ve got seven players who reside in the Cook Islands and we’ve got seven players, Cook Islanders, who reside in New Zealand.

“Of the ones in New Zealand, one is a world class cricketer [Ma’ara Ave] and he’s going to be our captain.” Hori Miller will co-captain the team.

Patil said some team members played cricket for the Under 19 New Zealand squad while other local players had played for years in the Cook Islands premier league.

Patil said because half the players reside in the Cook Islands and half reside in New Zealand, the biggest challenge was to get the team working together in a short space of time.

But he said the players credentials spoke for themselves.

“On Friday when we actually see all those guys and meet them, we then will play three practice games as a team in Auckland and that will help us gel together.”

Patil said the national squad would be up against strong competition.

Samoa and Fiji both had strong players, and Vanuatu was ranked higher than the other teams, Patil said. 

“It will be good (competition), but I’m confident that we will be competitive. We’re not just going there to turn up and make numbers, I think with the side that we’ve got we will actually be competitive.”

The team had their uniforms blessed at Lucky Rooster on Tuesday and fly out at 12.45pm today.