Hello again and thanks for taking the time to sit and read this article in these difficult times.
What a strange old world we live in. From the highs of qualifying for our first senior World Cup to being rushed out of the country and into uncertain times amid the global coronvirus pandemic.
I want to write about the World Cup qualification this week. But firstly, I hope all our readers are safe and following the important instructions from our governments.
Whether you are in Papua New Guinea or Australia, it is important that not only the sporting communities but all communities work together to limit the damage this threat is posing.
When you read about how badly Europe, particularly Italy, is being affected, it really brings home how important life is and that we are very lucky to play/coach a game we love for a living.
Cricket PNG (CPNG) is doing its bit by shutting down all programs for at least four weeks as recommended by the PNG Sports Foundation and putting our non-essential staff on leave.
For the players, they have got together into smaller groups in their villages and homes, and are doing sessions to maintain the hard work they have been doing.
The boys then have been posting their workouts, videos and photos on our WhatsApp group. Tony Ura did weights this morning with axles from cars he had lying around. That is a man who wants to do his country proud in the World Cup.
As a coach, to see the players doing this and driving these standards is really pleasing.
CPNG sport science sport medicine head Meiling Choong is doing an awesome job giving the players the tools and information they need to remain active and healthy. This is something we all can learn from in these times.
The fitter and healthier we can be provides us with a better defence against all viruses and illnesses.
Qualifying for the World Cup doesn’t seem quite as important as it did three weeks ago.
But it will remain in our minds as we work through these difficult times and pray that the world can return to normal by October and November.
The qualifiers last October was one of the best months of my cricketing life. The players and staff are one of the best groups I have worked with.
The staff were amazing with our newest member Tom John becoming a star on and off the field.
He has shown the drive to get better as he learnt how to do analysis and create videos that not only show the players what they’re doing well and need to improve on but also to provide some fun in the team meetings.
For a guy who had never been on a plane to thrive in Dubai was great to watch. The players were relentless in trying to get better and do their country proud.
They worked hard and took every challenge on in an exciting and fearless way. A couple of early defeats in the warm-up games saw us really focus moving into the rounds.
A big 10-wicket win over Bermuda, including a hat trick by Norman Vanua, saw us hit the ground running and this got us on a roll.
The wins over Namibia and the Netherlands followed which put us in a great position moving forward. These wins were satisfying as Namibia had beaten us in the warm-up games and also recently in the United States in the one-day internationals (ODIs) so to execute our game plan and get the job done was awesome.
The win over the Netherlands was probably my favourite in the early rounds for a number of reasons. They are coached by two good mates of mine so it is always good to get bragging rights for the bar later and they are in the ODI Super League with Australia, India, etc.
They have a vast wealth of experience. In fact, CPNG chief executive Greg Campbell worked out that two of their players have more experience then all of our Barramundis combined.
To beat them was incredible for the group and it showed that we have the plan to get the job done.
Next week, I will finish the World Cup qualifiers journey. So until then, stay safe and look after your mates.