When Papua New Guinea entered the ICC World Cricket League Championships in May 2015, the goal was pretty clear – Make it to the Top 4 for a chance of qualifying for the ICC World Cup in England next year. The structure of the tournament meant that the 4 best teams in the league advanced to the World Cup Qualifiers that are being held in Zimbabwe in less than a month.
The Road to Zimbabwe has not been easy. It started with defeats to Netherlands, who eventually topped the ICC WCL table. Immediately on the backfoot, the Hebou PNG Barramundis had to dig deep and consecutive victories against Nepal, Kenya and Namibia put the Barramundis in a strong position to qualify for the qualifiers. And the goal was eventually clinched at home when PNG beat Scotland last year.
Daniel Faunt, Cricket PNG Chairman of Selectors had his task cut out for him, having to choose a squad made up of only 15 members from a group of very talented cricketers. “The World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe are arguably one of the most important tours in our recent history not just in terms of possible World Cup qualification but also in respect of cementing our ODI rankings for the future. The CPNG Selection Panel have selected a 15 man squad which comprises the core group of players who travelled to Dubai at the end of 2017.”
It has taken a monumental effort by a big squad across 2 years to get to this point. A shot at the World Cup – the pinnacle of the sport. While it has no way been an easy path, there have been some memorable performances that led us here. Assad Vala’s (87 Runs, 3 wickets) man of the match performance in a tight fought win against Nepal (the match was won by PNG with 3 balls to spare), brought the first win of the campaign. Chad Soper’s 5-for that rattled the Kenyan batsmen at Amini Park and at the other end, Vani Vagi Morea’s brilliant century against the same opponents meant a series sweep by PNG. A 124-Run partnership between Sese Bau (76 Runs) and Dogodo Bau’s (80* Runs) saw Namibia’s challenge through while Vala was again the hero against UAE in UAE giving away only 20 runs in 10 overs while picking up 3 wickets in a low scoring win. And who can forget Mahuru Dai’s amazing knock against Scotland last year that meant PNG had qualified for the tournament in Zimbabwe. Dai scored 63 runs with the bat after picking up 2/19 in his 10 overs. While many individual performances stood out, there is no doubt in the fact that it has been a team that got us here. Sadly, not all of them can make it the team to Zimbabwe though – such is the brutal nature of sport and yet a sign of healthy competition.
CPNG Chairman of Selectors added “Notable exclusions from that tour include Nosiana Pokana who was not eligible for selection and Dogodo Bau who has missed selection also on basis that we have elected to include some variation within our bowling group. In that regard, we have selected Charles Amini Junior who provides us with a leg spinning option, middle order batting depth and dynamism in the field. Charles returns from a 12 month break and has worked hard to put himself in a position to be selected and we feel he will be a terrific addition to the group. We have also selected Jason Kila primarily due to his left arm orthodox spin capability which we feel is a missing piece of our attack. Jason’s pedigree as a batsman is also well known and he is an excellent fielder also. Both Charles and Jason will add variety to our Barramundi attack particularly in the spin bowling department which is an area we feel that has been lacking in recent times. We wish the Barramundis all the best in their campaign”
It seems like National Team Coach Joe Dawes and the selection committee under Chairman of Selectors Daniel Faunt, have been discussing cricketing matters together and are moving in the same direction, which is a very positive sign for cricket in Papua New Guinea. Dawes highlighted the need of a stronger spin contingent when he saw the squad and he knows a thing or two about spin bowling. Dawes was bowling coach to India where he coached Ravichandran Ashwin, a multiple time ODI bowler of the year. More recently, he has been coaching Afghanistan spin sensation Rashid Khan for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League. Both Jason Kila and Charles Amini Jr have been learning as much as they can under Dawes and consultant coach Liam O’Connor. Theywill be chomping at the bit to be in the playing XI in each game, after returning to the squad after a long time away. They add depth to the batting while also bolstering the spin options.
The signs are positive for the Hebou PNG Barramundis but it is a rocky road yet. They will need all your support in Zimbabwe and you can keep up to date with all the action on the Cricket PNG Facebook Page. Papua New Guinea, give your blessings to the latest edition of the Hebou PNG Barramundis on their way to Zimbabwe to fight for the pride of the country.
- Assad Vala (Captain)
- Vani Vagi Morea
- Lega Siaka
- Tony Ura
- Sese Bau
- Mahuru Dai
- Damien Ravu
- John Boge Reva
- Alei Nao
- Jason Kila
- Chad Soper
- Kipling Doriga
- Norman Vanua
- Jack Vare-Kevere
- Charles Amini Jnr
National Team Coach : Joe Dawes