Vala poised for big time

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013

 PAPUA New Guinea cricket’s leading batsman, Assad Vala is poised to play in the entertainment-driven Big Bash Twenty20 League in December. 

His selection is a testament to the exciting style the 26-year-old takes to the crease. 

Vala caught the eye of the 2012 champions Brisbane Heat after a string of impressive performances for the East-Asia Pacific side at the Australian Country Cricket Championships last year. 

He earned a spot in the combined ACCC XI, called the Country Infernos, and was among the runs in a trial match – he top scored with a 50 – in southern Queensland. 

It is a significant achievement not just for PNG but the Pacific, as Vala and compatriot Charles Amini Junior, who will join the Sydney Sixers, are the first locally-bred cricketers to have had the door opened to playing in arguably one of the world’s leading T20 competitions. 

The Heat has an array of stars like Australian test and one-day all-rounder Shane Watson, tear-away pace men Mitchell Johnson and West Indian Kemar Roach and New Zealand spin king Daniel Vettori, proving that it and the competition in general is full of big hitters. 

“I had a trial with them (Heat) in Gold Coast last year when I was selected to represent the Country Infernos during a T20 tournament that was held in Mackay,” Vala said.

“I was the leading run scorer and they (Heat) offered to sign me this year.

“I was invited to a couple of training sessions with the Heat when I was in Australia earlier in the year.

“The contract just means I become part of the playing squad and if I’m needed during the season I’ll get the call up, hopefully.” 

That will mean he joins the Heat at a moment’s notice even if he is playing for the Barramundis in any ICC tournament around the world. 

Until last week Vala was in Adelaide with the Barramundis squad, who are guests of the South Australia Cricket Association, before he was called up to play for the Norths cricket club in Brisbane and is on stand-by for a possible call-up to the Heat, who play their first match on December 22 against the Perth Scorchers at the Gabba, in Brisbane. 

Although Vala has had a quiet last six weeks of cricket the law of averages says he is due to score a swag of runs. His attitude has not been affected in the least. 

“I’m going to do what’s been working well for me since I got selected,” the eight-year Barramundi veteran said. 

“If the ball is there to hit, I’ll back myself to hit it.” 

Although he can improvise shots in the high octane atmosphere of a T20 match, Vala prefers standard strokes and scoring areas. 

“I try to play straight to the spinners and quicks alike. Hitting through cover  and over it is what I look to do.” 

Vala’s top scores show that on his day he can be devastating. He has a top T20 score of 157 against Indonesia at a World Cup qualifying tournament in New Zealand in February.