25 Apr

Cricket action returns this weekend in Vanuatu, with many of the country’s best players in action – and doing so for a good cause. Vanuatu is very likely to be the only venue in the world hosting a competitive cricket final this weekend as most international sport remains shut around the globe.

The beautiful Pacific island has become the first country where the situation has been brought under control sufficiently to allow for the resumption of cricket. Accordingly, domestic cricket will resume with the women’s club super league finals day today (Saturday, 25 April), with the matches being livestreamed on Vanuatu Cricket’s Facebook page.

On the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings, Vanuatu are ranked 28th among women and 50th among the men’s teams. Three players from their national team feature in premier women’s cricket in Australia, and the association holds the long-term aim to continue their commitment to women’s cricket and push the team into the top 20 in the world.

Vanuatu Cricket Association chief executive Shane Deitz, the former South Australia left-hander, is inviting anyone missing live action to tune in to a live stream from the tropical island in the South Pacific.

“It’s one of the only live sports around the world at the moment. We can showcase a bit of cricket for everyone who is in lockdown,” Deitz told the Associated Press.

Bored sports fans, he added, “can see something a bit different. We can offer some entertainment – that’s what we’re trying to do”.

The Tafea Blackbirds and the Power Sharks are playing off on Saturday morning in a women’s match, with the winner playing the Mele Bulls in the women’s domestic league final.

A condensed men’s exhibition match starts at 11am local time (10am AEST) with the women’s final to follow at a stadium Deitz is calling the VCG – the Vanuatu Cricket Grounds in the capital Port Vila, on the island of Efate.

They’re setting up four cameras and commentary for the online stream on Vanuatu Cricket’s Facebook page.

Vanuatu went into lock down late last month as a precaution during the coranavirus pandemic, and was then hit by a destructive cyclone on April 6.

So while they’re celebrating a reopening, a lockdown and closed borders meant there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, there’s work to be done in parts of the island archipelago that are rebuilding after Cyclone Harold.

Cricket is a serious sport in Vanuatu, which has roughly 80 islands and a population of nearly 300,000. In the past, Deitz said stars including former Australia captain Steve Waugh and fast bowler Merv Hughes visited Port Vila.

After a decade of playing first-class cricket for South Australia, Deitz moved into coaching initially in New Zealand, then in Bangladesh and has lived for five years in Vanuatu, where he made his international debut as a player in 2018.

His aim is to keep developing the game and facilities, hoping to make Vanuatu a destination for club teams and national junior teams to practice and play.

John Stephenson


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