PNG cricketers still planning for World Cup debut

8:10 am on 1 May 2021

Papua New Guinea's cricketers remain positive about their chance of creating history at the Men's Twenty20 World Cup, despite the ongoing uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament is due to begin in October but the deathtoll in host country India has passed 200,000, with at least 300,000 new infections every day in the past week.

The PNG Barramundis celebrate a wicket.

The PNG Barramundis celebrate a wicket. Photo: Twitter/T20 World Cup

Cricket PNG Chief Executive Greg Campbell said they have regular meetings with the ICC and other associate countries, and are comfortable with the advice they are being given.

"We're looking forward to it. We've got to stay cheerful: it's a historic moment for the country, a first ever World Cup, so we can't be down and the players aren't down and we will go with whatever the ICC and the governing bodies decide," he said.

"We know we can't forced anyone to travel anywhere at the moment but the players have shown interest. Wherever they go they'll be ready to go so when we know - and we've been addressing them weekly and fortnightly about procedures in the world and what's happening so they will also know what's going on."

The PNG national teams have not taken to the field this year but local competitions are scheduled to begin at the end of May.

Cricket PNG postponed the National 50 over competition following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

PNG hope to start their domestic competitions in late May. Photo: Cricket PNG

All sport is currently on hold in the country, following a spike in Covid cases, but the cricketers have been granted permission to train together in small groups in Port Moresby.

"A group comes in, does gym work, one's on the field and then the facilities get cleaned and they swap over and then the next group comes in the afternoon. We've been swapping with the women and the men like that," Campbell explained.

"The bottom line is the world is like that, not just us in PNG, so the boys are really keen and keeping their encouragement and they're looking forward to a World Cup."

PNG Cricket CEO Greg Campbell

PNG Cricket CEO Greg Campbell Photo: PNG Cricket

Former Italy international Carl Sandri was appointed the new Barramundis head coach in March, following the departure of Joe Dawes.

The 37 year old is still in Melbourne but has been working remotely since starting his new role a month ago.

"Carl Zooms every day with our high performance team, our strength and conditioners, he has Zoom meetings/Whatsapp meetings with the players," Campbell said.

"Unfortunately it's not the same as being there but he knows everyone quite well now and they're talking daily. I know we're not the only country that's doing that at the moment but we'll get Carl up there as soon as we can."

Sandri will get the chance to see three of his Barramundis players at close quarters this weekend, with Australian based trio Chad Soper, Jack Gardner and Joe Slater all taking part in a T20 Bash event in Mackay.

"Carl will fly up for that with our assistant coach Nathan Reardon. That runs over the long weekend here so he will have a first-hand opportunity to see a new person and a couple of the other ones, so he will meet them, so it's a start, we're kicking off slowly."

New PNG coach Carl Sandri

New PNG coach Carl Sandri Photo: twitter / @cjackal12

Greg Campbell is also based in Australia at the moment and is trying to arrange for some PNG players to travel down under in the next few months.

"We are talking to certain bodies now to see if we can get the boys in in late July and look at playing some competitions here in Australia before they go to India and there's also some ICC games that might happen...experts give us the information and we digest it and go back but we are definitely looking at getting some cricket before we go to the World Cup, which is imperative."