CJ Amini, the Papua New Guinea all-rounder, hopes that if he and his team members reach their goal of making it to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, it will open up new avenues and experiences for them.
Amini and Norman Vanua from the PNG Barramundis had been invited to train with Adelaide Strikers, the Big Bash League champions, and take part in practice matches, and consider themselves richer for the experience.
With Joe Dawes, the PNG coach, serving as assistant to Jason Gillespie with the Strikers, it opened up doors for the duo. Separately, Meiling Choong, Cricket PNG national strength and conditioning coach, too attended a course with the team.
Nepal superstar @IamSandeep25 made a splash on his #BBL08 debut for @StarsBBL against @ThunderBBL at @ManukaOval. Look out for him trying to lead his country through the #T20WorldCup qualifiers for a ticket down under in 2020! pic.twitter.com/8xxDQmQ39E— ICC T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) December 21, 2018
“There was an opportunity for Cricket PNG to send the boys down, and just get some experience, see how we prepare, and also for them to spend time with the players and other coaches and ask some questions and learn while they’re here,” Dawes told ABC Grandstand.
Amini had been part of the ‘rookie experience’ at Sydney Sixers four years ago. But now, as a regular international, he felt more able to make the most of the opportunities.
“Back then, I didn’t really reach out to learning new things,” he admitted. “Opportunities that came this week were an eye-opener. Joe Dawes being assistant coach helped me come out of my shell and speak to a lot of players.”
Learning to play in the middle order was one of Amini’s takeaways from the stint. Besides, he said, “We’re really proud of ourselves and our fielding ... To get acknowledgement from Alex Carey, one of the best wicket-keepers in Australia, was really overwhelming.”
The likes of Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane, as well as less-known players from Afghanistan and the US, have made a splash in T20 competitions around the world. Dawes believed it was “just a matter of time” before PNG players saw the same kind of opportunities.
“The way we want to play, the boys have really bought into the harder work we’re doing with fitness,” he said.
“The most important thing is to make the T20 World Cup, and get some exposure,” added Amini. “With that being on TV and a lot of coaches and players watching, that will be key, not only for myself but any player in Cricket PNG. Hopefully, one of us can be signed for Big Bash or any premier league in the world.”