Joe Rika with Craig Bayldon and Fiji National Coach, Shane Jurgensen.
By LAURA MACINTOSH
Joe Rika has announced he will be making a comeback to competitive cricket and trial for a place in the Senior Men’s squad next month, at the same time that Blue Tongue Sports Australia has announced that Rika will be the first Fijian to receive a full player sponsorship.
Cricket Fiji’s High Performance Manager sealed the deal with Craig Bayldon, one of the co-founders of Blue Tongue Sports, on Fiji’s Coral Coast yesterday. The deal with the Australian company, owned by Bayldon and fellow Aussie Dennis Papworth, will be for two years.
With regards to his return to playing, Rika said he felt that should he be worthy of selection into the team, he owed his cricketing comrades and Fiji his services to try and life the side back into Division Six of the World Cricket League.
“I have played with this group of guys for so long, and I feel it would be a great way to finish my career by being selected into the team that will hopefully re-qualify for the World Cricket League.”
The 26-year-old, who had been the captain of the Senior Men’s side since 2009, first represented Fiji aged 12 competing in the Under-19 division. He still holds the record of the highest score scored in a sanctioned Under-19 match, when he made 254 off 147 in a World Cup Qualifier against Japan. He also remains the highest run-scorer of all-time for Fiji.
Rika will commence full-time training at the conclusion of the Under-17 Pasifika Tri-Series, which will be staged in Suva next week.
Trials to pick a reduced squad from the 38-man one picked at the conclusion of the 2014 LICI Easter Tournament will be held on July 5 and 19.