Of the team that won gold last year, ten players return to this year’s squad for the tournament in Apia.
This includes captain Regina Lili’I and current Samoa Cricket development manager and vice-captain, Perelini Mulitalo, who will play in her fifth regional women’s qualifier.
The team will also feature several new faces including Faamitai Anitoni, Velder Levaula and Filimaua Malo while Letelesa Autagavia returns to the team for the first time since 2012.
Several players from the squad joined New Zealand club teams last season, providing them with excellent preparation in the lead up to the tournament.
Two players, Matile Uliao and Lagi Otila Tele’a, also played in the East Asia-Pacific women’s team who won the inaugural Australian Country Cricket Championships in early 2016. Uliao made headlines at the tournament after she took a hat-trick in the EAP’s match against Northern Territory and will be a key bowler again for the Samoan team this tournament.
Captain Lili’I knows that all these opportunities will be invaluable for the team this time around. She believes that “every opportunity we get to play cricket, either individually or as a team, helps us to improve and play better quality cricket”.
And the expectations from Lili’I of her team are high: “Obviously winning the gold medal was an amazing effort from the girls last year. But now we need to back that up with even better cricket at this tournament because there’s a World Cup Qualifier position at stake.”
Samoa will also have a new coach after Ian West stepped down from coaching the team. Sunshine Coast-based coach Brad Murphy has been brought in to fill the role with Taitoe Kaisala as his assistant coach.
The 2016 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier – East Asia-Pacific begins in Apia, Samoa, on July 15 and will feature teams from Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Japan. The tournament is a double round robin with the team who finishes on top of the table progressing to the Global Qualifier for the 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.