The Cook Islands national cricket squad departed for Auckland last week to join the other half of their team before going to the East Asia Pacific Sub-Regional Qualifying Tournament in Vanuatu.
The national side, coached by Craig Murray, will take on Fiji, Samoa and the host team from September 9 to 15.
Before getting on the flight, team member Gabe Raymond said he was “stoked” to have made the squad and represent the country.
Raymond said it was the first time he had gone overseas to play cricket.
“I don’t really know what to expect largely but we’re just going to go hard,” he said.
“That’s basically how we’re all going to approach it; I think we’ve got a good shot if we play to the best of our abilities.
“If we do get there (win), it’s going to be huge! Cricket’s one of the top four or five sports in the world in terms of viewership so it’s a really big thing and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Raymond is one of seven Cook Islands-based players who will meet the other half of the team in Auckland.
“Auckland is going to be really good,” he said.
“There’s going to be three really good practice games for us which is going to give us a bit of a yard stick as to where we’re at.”
Raymond said it would also be good to be together as a full squad.
“I think the boys are prepared as we could be. It’s been a bit difficult having trained through the winter with all the rain of late but we’ve put in a lot of hard work.”
Raymond thanked his team, the coach and the Cook Islands people.
Tomakanute (Kunta) Ritawa speaking in Maori gave praise to God, expressed his thanks to the coaches, management and sponsors for this opportunity to play in the tournament.
“The boys have trained hard for months and are proud to represent the country,” Ritawa said.
The tournament is part of T-20 Cricket World Cup qualifiers. The winner of this tournament will then go to another qualifying tournament playing the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and another team to be decided, to see who will play in the world cup. The Cook Islands cricket team – Hori Miller, Benjamin George Vakatini, Davis Teinaki, Tomakanute Ritawa, Tomasi Wellington Vanuarua, Gabe Steven Raymond, Mea Tangi Me Ma’ara Joshua Ave, Cory Russell Dickson, Hayden Bob Dickson, Liam George Roderick Denny, William Teariki-Apainga Kokaua, Thomas Tereapii Nikau Parima, Aue Metua Parima, Danny Brent Simpson, Craig Murray – Team Coach, Rahul Patil – Team Manager. Non-travelling reserves – Pare Rongokea, Christopher Mana, Pati Ataela.