Samoa prepares for home turf tournament
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Ian West works with one of the Samoan squad
This September Samoa is hosting the biggest tournament ever to be held in the country as eight nations from across the globe converge on Apia for the World Cricket League Division 8 tournament.
After their successes in regional competitions over the past two years Samoa now have their opportunity to perform on the world stage against teams from as far afield as Belguim, Ghana, Suriname and Bhutan.
Samoa will name a 14-man squad for the tournament and those hoping to be included are currently taking part in a rigorous training schedule both in Samoa and back here in Auckland.
Former Blackcap Murphy Su'a combines playing duties with his role of head coach and he is leading an experienced group of Auckland based players, including Eden Roskill batsmen Ben Mailata and Sean Cotter, through fitness and net sessions three times a week.
Auckland University's Ian West is spending his off season in Samoa working with the home based players in his role as High Performance coach and has been impressed with the standard of players on the islands: "We have a very talented group, they are very fit, strong and athletic and they are all on track to perform well in September."
West oversees training squads on each of Samoa's main islands Savai'i and Upolu and is delighted to see the game flourishing throughout the country despite the limitations: "The commitment level of the players is very impressive. Some of them have to walk for an hour to get to training, they then train in the heat and then they have to walk home again. The national team doesn't receive any funding so we rely on donations, but the players just get on with it and make the best of what they have. It really is great to see."
While Samoa will head into September's tournament knowing very little about their opposition West believes having home field advantage is a major boost: "We are facing most of the sides for the first time and while the competition will undoubtedly be tough the conditions will be in our favour.
"It is seriously hot right now in Samoa and by September it will be even hotter. The tournament format is also very unforgiving with five 50 over games being played in 6 days so there will be little time to acclimatize. Each team will need to be incredibly fit to perform and I believe the work our players are doing both in Samoa and back in Auckland will ensure we are the best prepared team leading into the tournament."