PNG on hold while the Cook Islands gear up

With one tournament being postponed and one tournament starting Isaac Lockett reports on the latest Pacific news coming out of PNG and the Cook Islands.

PNG will be looking to build on their WCL and EAP T20 Qualifiers success. ICC Media Zone

Cricket PNG has postponed all cricket related activity for 14 days in the Port Moresby area, in line with a government-enforced lockdown period due to COVID-19. However, this does not mean that all of the Pacific Islands are on hold with the 2020 Rarotonga Cricket Club Competition in the Cook Islands getting started this weekend. 

A PNG Team Huddle (Photo: ICC)

The 14-day lockdown has come at an unfortunate time Cricket PNG and its stakeholders with the lockdown leading to the postponement the Isuzu National Cup until further notice. When talking about the decision to postpone, Greg Campbell, the CEO of Cricket PNG, was quoted by the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier as stating ‘With the escalation of the COVID threat in Port Moresby and the subsequent 14-day lockdown imposed by the Government, we and our sponsor Boroko Motors, felt this decision was necessary to keep all players, officials, and spectators safe’. Further to this Campbell elaborated that the cricket’s governing body in the country had a duty of care to the stakeholders involved. Cricket PNG has also ensured that players who had travelled from outside the Port Moresby area to compete were able to return home to ensure that they were not kept apart in the case of any domestic travel bans. Whilst it is a shame to see the postponement of any cricket tournament, stakeholders safety and health must come first. There is no official resumption date of the tournament at this point, however, Campbell stated that Cricket PNG will continue to monitor the COVID situation and the tournament will resume when it is safe to do so. Cricket despite being able to continue in other provinces of the country will also face changes due to COVID. Cricket PNG Manager and Warden, Margaret Sibona stated that there is the move to put in place additional protocols and measures to ensure that cricket can be played as safely as possible.

Meanwhile, on the Cook Islands, fourteen teams are preparing to compete in the 2020 Rarotonga Cricket Club Competition. Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands and has an active cricketing ecosystem, with selection is up for grabs during the tournament for the upcoming tour to Mangaia there is a lot to play for. Due to the tour to Mangaia, most southerly of the Cook Islands and the second largest, after Rarotonga this year’s tournament has been moved to earlier in the calendar in order for there to be ample time to select the touring squad. There will be a male and a female squad touring with there being two male and two female representatives from each club going on tour. The selection will be based on performance during the upcoming competition.

Cook Islands
The Cook Islands women in action (Photo: ICC)

With eight teams competing in the men’s division and six in the female division, the tournament promises to be another festival of cricket. During last year’s competition, Matavera won both the male and female divisions and will be looking to repeat the feat this year. However, competing against Arorangi, Nikao, Tupapa, Takuvaine, Turangi, Avana and Muri in the men’s division and against Nikao, Turangi, Tupapa, Takuvaine and Avana in the women’s competition there promises to be a lot of competitive action. 

In a preview of the tournament, Amoa More, the president of Turangi Cricket Association, described to Cook Island News that ‘Matavera remains the top bet this year but we will see some strong competition from the likes of Tupapa, Turangi, Nikao and Arorangi. The other teams will also be coming all out to cause some major upsets this year’.

The tournament will be of huge importance to those competing to ensure that they are the ones to be selected for the tour, plus competitive cricket always brings the best out in some individuals and teams.

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