The National, Thursday 29th December 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
THE last contingent from Papua New Guinea to join the East Asia Pacific team will leave today for Melbourne to compete at the 2012 Australian Country Cricket Championships in Geelong beginning on New Year’s Day
Mahuru Dai, Chris Amini and assistant coach Rarua Dikana will join their teammates before their first game against the Northern Territory next Monday.
Dikana yesterday said the bulk of the team were on scholarship in Australia while the remaining team members from Vanuatu and Fiji would join the team in preparation for the four-day tournament.
He said the PNG boys would use the tournament as part of their preparation for the T20 World Cup qualifier in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March next year.
PNG qualified for the T20 after finishing third in the tournament last year.
It also qualifies PNG to receive US$350,000 development grant annually from ICC for the next two years.
Dikana said the win also elevated PNG’s status as a high performance country.
He said PNG must maintain their level and fitness to remain in Division Two and receive international funding.
He said the T20 World Cup qualifier was a big ask for PNG.
“We are among 16 teams vying for one of the two sports available to playing in the World Cup in Sri Lanka in September next year. However, PNG is currently ranked 9th out of the 16 countries which is an impossible task,” he said.
Dikana always kept his faith with the local boys saying if PNG players kept their minds on the job, they could win the match.
Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Andrew Mansale has been given the honour of captaining the East Asia-Pacific team.
He would be well supported by PNG wicketkeeper Jack Vare who would be vice-captain for the tournament.
This will be the third time Mansale has led the EAP team into the event and he said being captain was a privilege he would never take for granted.
“I am very proud to once again be given this opportunity especially considering that this is probably the strongest team we have had for many years,” Mansale said.
“I wasn’t sure if I would get it this year because the team contains so many great leaders from around the region so it was a great surprise.”
EAP coach Tom Evans is confident that Mansale’s combination of youth and experience would see him once again fill the role with success.
“Andrew is a very good young leader for our EAP side,” Evans said.
“He is very aware of what is required to be successful at the ACCC, now having played 35 games, the most games by an EAP player.”
Meanwhile, PNG young gun Chris Kent will no longer be available for the event as he has been selected to represent the ACT at the Australian U19 Championships.
“Chris is a very talented young player, it will be a fantastic opportunity for him to compete against the best young players in Australia,” Evans said.
“Although he will be missed in the EAP team he has done very well to force his way into the ACT U19 side, we wish him and the side all the best.”
Kent will be replaced by fellow countryman Vani Vagi Morea.