Photo Credit: Cricket PNG
The Barramundis have been starved of international cricket since qualifying for the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai late 2019. The worldwide COVID pandemic has played havoc with the ICC scheduling over the past 13 months, with all ICC events postponed since the Women’s World Cup in Australia in March 2020.
With domestic cricket also affected by the pandemic and the related National Government protocols all our national players have had limited time in match situations apart from one. Barramundi Chad Soper who made his debut for the Barras in 2015, is based in Australia on the central Coast of New South Wales, isolated by distance from his teammates.
Chad, who has been a mainstay since his debut, was speaking about his situation from his home yesterday” it’s been tough being away from the boys, we are in touch regularly and I’m involved obviously through the coaching and player groups now done through online means. We have constant contact with the coaching staff, programs are continually sent through. It’s been working well all the boys have been working hard, keeping up their fitness, we report to each other after our sessions, so it keeps us all accountable”.
“I’ve been blessed having the opportunity to play a full cricket season in Sydney and able to put all my training into practice in the middle. I feel for the other boys, I know they would love to be playing. They are still upbeat though, morale is high, and we are all helping each other, we will be ready when we get to play again in the PNG Barras shirt”.
Soper has had a strong season in NSW grade cricket playing for Northern Districts who won the Club Championships with his first-grade team making the semi finals of both formats, and four other club sides winning their premierships. Soper took 35 wickets for the season and performed well with the bat despite limited opportunities in lower the order with his team dominating a majority of games.
When questioned on the recent coaching change Soper was upbeat, “ I’m really looking forward to working with Carl, I did my research and was excited, he has plenty of experience and having been a recent player will help as well. Joe Dawes was great he brought the group up to his level of professionalism, improved my game, I’m sure Carl will be the same and bring new energy into the group”.
Soper has just completed a week off after a gruelling Sydney first grade season and is now back into the Barras training programs. He is waiting to be reunited with his teammates and focused on achieving his World Cup dream, contributing to a successful campaign in India and doing PNG proud.