Auckland Aces to face the world in Abu Dhabi
The Auckland Aces will play against some of the world’s best T20 franchises at the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy in just over a week.
The whirlwind three-day tournament starting 4 October will showcase some of the powerhouses of T20 cricket, from the Big Bash in Australia, the Vitality Blast in England and the Pakistan Super League.
“It’s a great opportunity to take a young side to different conditions,” says Aces captain Craig Cachopa.
“With no BLACKCAPS or NZA players available, it’s a fantastic chance for guys who haven’t been to the UAE to experience a tournament in the heat.”
Cachopa is excited for the team to have a chance to compare themselves against the best of T20 cricket.
“Yorkshire have been champions in England, and the Titans win trophies every year.”
Coach Mark O’Donnell says it’s a great occasion for the team to be part of.
“It’s a wonderful moment for our young players to experience something completely new,” he says.
The Aces will play in a group with the Multiply Titans from South Africa and the Boost Defenders from Afghanistan.
The Afghan team will be bolstered by the inclusion of batsman Chris Gayle, whom O’Donnell recently worked with in the Caribbean Premier League.
“The chance for our bowling attack to develop plans to counter one of the best T20 batsmen in the world is fantastic,” says O’Donnell.
“This is a great addition to our preseason for the 2018/19 campaign, which kicks off only a few days after the trip.”
The team will return to New Zealand just three days before starting their first Plunket Shield match against Wellington.
Cachopa says the travel and the shift in formats presents an opening for his players to embrace what professional cricket is.
“It’s a shorter turnaround than some of the guys would be used to, but teams fly and play all the time.”
“It’s part of the game and just the way T20 competitions are,” he says.
Coach O’Donnell says the timing of the tournament won’t impact the team’s domestic season.
“This invitation came a couple of weeks ago, we’ve implemented plans and training schedules working back from day one in Wellington.”
“As a management group and as a squad, we’re focused on being competitive from the first ball of our home season,” says O’Donnell.
Auckland Cricket CEO Iain Laxon says it’s a wonderful opportunity which wasn’t expected.
“Being able to give our players the chance to face international opposition is rare for a domestic team,” he says.
“It’s come out of Auckland Cricket’s intent to foster good relations internationally, which is something we will continue to build on and develop.”
Aces squad: Craig Cachopa (captain), Finn Allen, Michael Barry, Jamie Brown, Graeme Beghin, Danru Ferns, Michael Guptill-Bunce, Ben Horne, Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Robbie O’Donnell, Sean Solia, Will Somerville.