By PATRICIA KEAMO
THE national men’s cricket team say they are primed to push for their second Twenty-20 (T20) World Cup when they compete in next month’s qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
Head coach Carl Sandri said the squad had a strong domestic preparation, having competed in the Isuzu Cup (50 over) and Isuzu Bash (T20) tournaments at Amini Park in Port Moresby.
The Barramundis are set to depart for South Africa next week, depending on their visas for a camp before the qualifiers.
“We do have an important period coming up,” Sandri said.
“It’s an exciting one for the players and myself.
“We just finished our T20 domestic competition, the Isuzu Cup.
“It has been a great preparation for the players, the selection will be announced on Tuesday (yesterday).
“We’ll go to South Africa for a pre-camp and a tour there to work on tighten the screws a little bit to make sure everything is in order.
“We’ve got all our plans in place and then it’s basically off to Zimbabwe to execute them.”
Sandri said the arrival of Australian-based Barramundis Chad Soper and Jack Gardener had boosted their preparations.
“It’s great to have the full squad on deck, it just lifts the standard of the group and makes sure that everyone’s pushing each other.
“That way, we have everyone in one place for the selection, especially given the last couple of years we had difficulties around having everyone here.
“We’re selecting 14 players for this tour.
“That’s bit of a squeeze, given with the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately, it’s a bit disappointing (now), but that’s sports.
“For those players who are fortunate enough to be selected, we really want them to take that as a challenge and come back and make sure they keep their standards high.
“We keep pressuring those in the squad that they were chosen for a reason and they have a job to do.
“We picked them for this tour because we think they’re our best 14, but they have to perform well.”
Sandri said some of the factors considered when selecting the squad was the game style they had planned, conditions in Zimbabwe, form of the players and past results.
“We have quite a good batting team at the moment, we’re in form with the bat, so we looked at consolidating our top-six,” he said.
“It’s going to be a quick tournament in Zimbabwe once we’re there, it’s pretty hectic and chaotic, things can happen in many different ways, so we’re just encouraging the players to go and express themselves.
“Playing against the PNG players (domestic) is different from other countries, but I think we play our best cricket when we play the PNG style, so I’m encouraging that.
“Get behind captain Assad Vala because he’s going to play an important role and keep supporting the Barras.
“Hopefully, Norman Vanua hits a few sixes too, that should help us,” said Sandri.
By PATRICIA KEAMO