12 Jul 2016

Sport: New-found confidence, format for Samoa cricketers

12:38 pm on 12 July 2016

The Samoa women's cricket team is putting in the practice hours in preparation for their first 50-over match in six years.

The East Asia Pacific Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier begins in Apia on Friday, with the hosts vying with Papua New Guinea and Japan for a berth at next year's final qualifying stage.

PNG won the last EAP Trophy event in 2014 but suffered their first defeat against Samoa in last year's Pacific Games final in Port Moresby.

Captain Regina Lili'I said that breakthrough performance has been a huge boost to the squad.

"That was the first time we ever beat PNG and to do it in their home ground and in the final of the Pacific Games it was really something I will remember for a lifetime. I think then all the girls just really showed a lot of heart and so that's kind of what we're trying to bring into this tournament - a lot of girls are hungry to do that again and just try and keep doing the basics and take momentum from that tournament into this tournament."

Samoa celebrate winning gold at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Samoa celebrate winning gold at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby. Photo: ICC East Asia Pacific

Regina Lili'I said one of the challenges the home side is trying to address is the fact they haven't played a 50-over match since 2010.

"So we've had a couple of practice games this week. and the girls based in New Zealand are really familiar with the 50 over game. The girls based in Samoa have played a bit of 50 over cricket in their preparation so we've just been trying to break the 50 overs down into small targets. If you look at 50 overs it seem very very long, especially when you're batting, so we're just trying to break it down into small targets, small goals and things like that."

Queensland-based Brad Murphy has taken over the coaching reins and said they've been doing all the can to get comfortable in the longer format.

"We've just tried to get the girls batting 50 overs. We had a practice game yesterday (and) almost made it - they batted 45 and we're doing batting drills now, just talking about the importance of partnerships and we've addressed all different sorts of subjects to try to get them to last, bat session to session. All the old clichés mate - we're just trying to concentrate on that."

10 of the players that won gold at the Pacific Games have returned to this year's Samoan squad, with Faamitai Anitoni, Velder Levaula and Filimaua Malo poised to make their international debut and Letelesa Autagavia returning to the team for the first time since 2012.

Samoa squad:

Regina Sela Monika Lili'i (c), Perelini Mulitalo (vc), Lelia Ane Bourne, Taalili Iosefo, Via Meretiana Andrew, Feala Vaelua, Taofi Lafai, Matile Uliao, Letelesa Autagavaia, Faamitai Anitoni, Lagi Otila Tele'a, Eleni Vaaetasi, Velder Levaula, Filimaua Malo