- Japan, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji will fight it out in a single round-robin format
- Just one team from the East Asia-Pacific Qualifier will progress to the next stage
- The victorious nation will join the 11 automatic qualifiers for the 2020 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, which will take place in January and February next year
Five teams will battle it out for in a bid to continue their journey to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 in South Africa through the East Asia-Pacific Qualifier.
Japan will host the latest leg on the qualification process starting from June 2 as Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji all strive for the top spot in EAP Division 1.
The single round-robin format in Sano will see each side play each other once, with the team that finishes with the most points from their four games progressing to the next stage.
The five winners of each regional Division 1 will join the 11 automatic qualifiers from the ICC U18 Cricket World Cup 2018 for the tournament that will take place in January and February 2020.
Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies are already assured of their place in South Africa.
Japan will begin their quest to join the automatic qualifiers for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup showdown with their opener against Samoa at the Sano International Cricket Ground.
The first day will also see Fiji take on Papua New Guinea as they get their challenges underway, before Vanuatu kick off their qualification campaign on day two against Fiji.
In total, 50 teams will take part in the qualification pathway over 2018-19 – including 30 teams in Division 2 events – for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, which is held every two years.
Japan wicketkeeper Marcus Thurgate, who was introduced to cricket by his dad, said: “I think it would be the start of a new era for Japanese cricket if we qualified.”
Papua New Guinea batter Barnabas Aunama said: “Winning the U19 Cricket World Cup would be wonderful, but just playing in it would be a dream come true for us.”
Vanuatu Bettan Ala Viraliliu, who took up the sport aged nine after watching his brother play, is the Vanuatu captain and hailed the importance of cricket to the Pacific island country.
He said: “Cricket in Vanuatu plays an important role it brings together many people to have fun and be involved with a team and provides employment to players.
“If Vanuatu qualified for South Africa I will be so proud of the team because we have never tasted the victory of going to a World Cup and will feel like all our prayers had been finally answered.”
Samoa captain Lester Evile, a college student at Saint Joseph’s, said: “I will be very excited if we get to qualify as it will be Samoa’s first cricket team to be in a World Cup stage.”
Fiji’s Jone Valenikuila is also relishing the challenge ahead and said: “We have a lot of young boys playing and competing for spots in our national teams especially in our U19 side.
“I would be very proud of the boys and everyone at Cricket Fiji for their support if we qualified and I will work hard to help other players to try and achieve the same in the future,” he said.
ICC U19 Cricket World Cup East Asia-Pacific Qualifier 2019
2 June: Japan U19 v Samoa U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground, Sano 09h30), Fiji U19 v Papua New Guinea (Sano International Cricket Ground 2, Sano 09h30)
3 June: Samoa U19 v Fiji U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground, Sano 09h30), Vanuatu U19 v Japan U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground 2, Sano 09h30)
5 June: Fiji U19 v Vanuatu U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground, Sano 09h30), Samoa v Papua New Guinea U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground 2, Sano 09h30)
6 June: Papua New Guinea U19 v Vanuatu (Sano International Cricket Ground, Sano 09h30), Japan U19 v Fiji U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground 2, Sano 09h30)
8 June: Papua New Guinea U19 v Japan U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground, Sano 09h30), Vanuatu U19 v Samoa U19 (Sano International Cricket Ground 2, Sano 09h30)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Live scoring all matches will be available on www.icc-cricket.com