Japan aim to go one better in Samoa
Japan are aiming to one better than their second-placed finish at the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier - East-Asia Pacific in Samoa next month.
They won the competition in 2010 and 2012 but lost out to Papua New Guinea two years ago in a close final.
With the chance to qualify for the Women's World Cup qualifier at stake, Japan are hoping that despite the retirement of some senior players, they have enough talent to beat PNG and Samoa.
This year has seen them them invite coaches from Australia to work with the side to get their preparations right. Lachlan Stevens from Victoria and Melbourne Renegades ran a 10-day camp last month while Nicole Martin from Australia Indoor Cricket was with the team earlier this month and will coach them in Samoa.
"This is a great group of girls who I can see really want to do well," Martin said.
"They are committed and ambitious, which I love to see and I hope that we can replicate the good work in training when we get out in the middle."
Japan finished third in the first ever East Asia Cup last year, held in South Korea, finishing behind China and Hong Kong, but it was an opportunity for many new players to gain experience.
Four of their players have already been in action this year as they were selected in the East-Asia Pacific side that won the inaugural women's Australian Country Cricket Championships.
Captain Mai Yanagida and ex-captain Shizuka Miyaji were also invited to play in the Hong Kong Women's Premier League alongside and against current Australian internationals as well as being coached by ex-Australian international Stuart MacGill.
Alex Miyaji, Japan Cricket CEO, believes that the preparation will set them on course to do well in Samoa.
"We are really excited about our current women’s team," he said.
"The players have improved a lot since the last tournament and the increased opportunities for players over the last 12 months puts the team in a really strong position heading into the tournament."
The tournament begins on 15th July with the three teams playing each other twice before the side at the top of the table wins through to the Women's World Cup qualifier.
© Cricket World 2016