Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has given the nation’s blessings to the National Men’s Cricket team that’s heading for Australia.
The team is leaving tonight to compete in the International Cricket Council’s East Asia Pacific Trophy in Bendigo, Australia from the 19th of February till the 26th of February.
On Tuesday night, a farewell was hosted at the Orator Hotel. Organized by the Samoa International Cricket Association. The event was well attended by families and friends of the men’s cricket team including Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
“Samoa will be competing against some of the most powerful teams from the Asia Pacific like, Japan, Indonesia, Phillipines, Vanuatu and Fiji,” said Tuilaepa.
“Whichever team will win this tournament they will qualify for Division 5 of the I.C.C.’s World Cricket League.
“The aim of the International Cricket Federation of Samoa is that the game should be developed and keep growing because the truth is Kilikiti is Samoa’s very own sport.
“Many of us have never heard of rugby from when we were young, not until we grew up but kilikiti is the sport that we have grown up to know, even the elderly people are still playing the sport.”
Tuilaepa said this is one of the highest paid sports in the world.
“But that can only happen if we become famous and be good at the sport,” said Tuilaepa.
“This sport gets more money than rugby and that’s why we keep reminding the people to develop the sport as it is ours.
“For kilikiti also, compared to rugby there is no need for tall and fast people as it does in rugby.
“The only thing needed in the sport is someone who is a fast bowler and has the skills in playing the sport.”
Tuilaepa went on to say that if Samoa becomes successful in this tournament this means we will be going to the next level to play with the big guns as we see on television.
He also acknowledges the Chief Executive Officer of S.I.C.A. Salā Stella Vaai for all that she is doing for the development of the sport in Samoa.
He then encouraged the team to do the best they can in representing Samoa for the tournament.
According to the press release one of the big hitters of the team Sa’o Mulivai – Schmidt will not be participating in the tournament due to work and family commitments.
The squad has 11 locally based players that have been working hard with their new Australian based coach Tim Carter.
There are two new faces for this tournament. Sao Tofilau is a hard hitting left handed batsman who has the potential to score big runs and destroy opposition bowling attacks.
He can also bowl medium pace in the middle overs of a game if required.
Solofuti Uatisone Falo is the youngest member of the team and still qualifies for the U19 side.
Solofuti was identified by Coach Carter during his visit in December.
Carter was impressed with Solofti’s right arm finger spin and how he deceived the batsmen in flight.
He expected to play a big role on the dirt, spinning wickets in Australia.
Samoa will be captained by the Auckland based Ben Mailata.
Mailata, the leading run scorer for all of Polynesia in 50 over cricket has one goal in mind for this tournament, “to gain entry in the W.C.L.”
Other local players expected to perform well in this tournament include Fred Sapatu, Maletino Maiava and Fa’afetaialealofaVa’aetasi.
Sapatu made 133 not out in one game in Lismore during the last tournament.
Consistency will be the key for Sapatu in Bendigo, with carter emphasizing to Sapatu throughout the tournament preparation that if he can bat for long periods in each game then it will go a long way in helping Samoa win the tournament.
Both Maiava and Va’aetasi bowl left arm finger spin and will play vital roles in the tournament.
This will be the second tournament for Maiava and in addition to his on-field role he will also play a mentoring role to the younger players. Fa’afetai, who puts lots of revolutions on the ball, is a young and upcoming player who has the potential to dominate the game with the ball.
If he can bowl with the right flight he will get a lot of turn on the Australia turf wickets.
There is no doubt that Samoa has the talent to win this tournament and progress to the world Cricket League.
Let’s see if the team put the wins on the board.
1. Sean Cotter – Vice captain – Kesington, Adelaide
2. Fred Sapatu – Bradaz Club
3. Daniel Burgess – Vallies
4. solofuti Uatisonefalo – Bradaz Club
5. Pasi Kalosi – Vailele Club
6. SililaugaTaitoekaisala – Vailele Club
7. Pritchard Pritchard – Bradaz Club
8. Maletinomaiava – Bradaz Club
9. Ben Mailata – Captain – Waitakere
10. Tiafala Alatasi – Falese’ela Club
11. Aleki Tiatia – Falese’ela Club
12. Na’amanu Va’asili – Bradaz Club
13. Jim sao – Bradaz Club
14. Fa’afetaialealofa Va’aetasi – Spartan Club
– Team Manager