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PNG Lewas to focus on 2022 Commonwealth Games

By Indi SUMBA                     SportsTok Magazine | Issue #87       

Papua New Guinea Lewas the national women’s cricket team will have to strap up their stamps for the upcoming international tournament to be able to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. This came after the International Cricket Council and the Commonwealth Games Federation announce the qualification process. In a historic first, Women’s T20 cricket will be played at the 2022 Commonwealth Games scheduled from 28 July to 8 August in Birmingham, England.
The T20 tournament will feature eight teams, with England guaranteed a spot and the six other spots given to the top six teams in the ICC rankings by 1 April 2021. The other spot will be going to the winner of a Commonwealth Games Qualifier, the format and details will be announced shortly. Cricket PNG CEO Greg Campbell said, “This is a great announcement from the Commonwealth Games Federation and the ICC. As the women’s game grows, it needs more global platforms to showcase its growth and development. Our Lewas are currently ranked 15 and were one win away from qualifying for the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this year, we are looking forward to the ICC announcement on the qualifying process.”
With the impending Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2021, The Commonwealth Games Qualifier is a welcome addition to the Lewas international schedule. National Head Coach Joe Dawes said, “The women now have the Cricket World Cup and Commonwealth Games qualifying tournaments to look forward to. We are eagerly waiting for the details of each tournament, but the players, coaches and staffs are looking forward to more international cricket for the Lewas. This is perfect timing with the Women’s Isuzu National Cup starting next week – there is added excitement around Cricket Haus and within the teams playing in the tournament. Looking to build on the momentum of the 2020 T20 World Cup that saw over 86,000 people attended the final at the MCG, International Cricket Council (ICC), Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said “Cricket at the Commonwealth Games is a fantastic opportunity for us to continue to grow the women’s game globally. We are committed to accelerating this growth and maintaining the momentum we have created over the past few years…” Papua New Guinea's cricketers have already returned to the pitch after a long crease following the end of the country's Covid-19 State of Emergency. The Barramundis and Lewas have spent the past few months keeping fit in isolation and sharing their workout videos and results with each other on social media. Barramundis head coach Joe Dawes, who have completed weeks of self-isolation after returning from Australia, said it was the first time the players could all come together as a big group. "Four weeks ago we were able to start training in small groups so we had pods of four going in - both the men and the women throughout the week doing some training," he said.


"So we sort of got contact time three of four times a week with each of the squads, which was good and then as of today (Wednesday) they've lifted the State of Emergency up here in PNG and our two squads can start training as a squad as of today, which is exciting to get them all together again." The Barramundis were originally scheduled to host a one day international tri-series against Nepal and the United Arab Emirates in Port Moresby this month before it was postponed because of Covid-19. But Joe Dawes said things on the local front were looking up. He said they successfully hosted their domestic competition with the CPNG Smash that was running for last couple of years with four franchises and it has grown interest. "This year we're also running a new competition which we call the Izuzu National Cup, which is a 50 over competition. With our ODI stuff we're just really trying to improve our performances in 50 over cricket. It makes it very hard for the local players when there's no 50 over cricket here." The Barramundis are set to find out next month whether the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia will go ahead later this year but Dawes isn't holding his breath. The ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2020 has been postponed to next year (2021).  The prospect of a delayed World Cup would be enough to get most people down but Dawes is choosing to focus on the positives. "At the end of the day it will happen when it happens. You and I can't make that decision - its way above our paygrade - so we will just wait and see when we're told and whenever it comes we'll make sure we're prepared. "The other way I'm looking at it is if we get an extra four months or 12 months to prepare well that would just mean that we can go into that tournament in an even better position that we would do in October and November." The teams that will be participating in the tournament scheduled are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

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