Live cricket action returns this weekend in Vanuatu, with many of the country's best players in action – and doing so for a good cause.
COVID-19 has brought live sports to a grinding halt globally even as governments and frontline workers strive to fight the pandemic. But now, the beautiful Pacific island of Vanuatu has become the first country where the situation has been brought under control enough to allow for the resumption of cricket.
Accordingly, domestic cricket will resume with the women's club super league finals day on Saturday, 25 April, with the matches being livestreamed on Vanuatu Cricket's Facebook page.
Power House Sharks will take on Tafea Black Birds in the semi-final in the morning, with the winner facing off in the final against Mele Bulls, who have been undefeated in the four-team competition.
There will be a men's exhibition game before the women's matches.
The men’s 40-over club championship will begin on the following weekend, Saturday 2 May, with seven teams competing for the title.
"We have decided that it is safe for us to resume our cricketing activities," said Shane Deitz, CEO, Vanuatu Cricket. "However, we understand that there is still a need for physical distancing and we will do our best to ensure that we abide by physical distancing recommendations and also maintain good hygiene."
Vanuatu has no cases of the coronavirus. The government issued a state of emergency from 26 March, with borders closed and flights stopped a week before that. However, tropical cyclone (TC) Harold hit the region in early April, causing widespread destruction.
📣VCA TC HAROLD RELIEF DRIVE📣— Vanuatu Cricket (@vanuatu_cricket) April 20, 2020
"Small actions X lots of people = Big change"
We're prepared to collect relief supplies for communities that have been affected by TC Harold in Santo. You guys are fantastic supporters and we kindly ask you to help us help our families in need! pic.twitter.com/kqpCnN9JrG
Boosted by government support to resuming cricket activity, the association aims to also use the opportunity to aid in cyclone relief. Local residents and businesses have been urged to drop off clothing, utensils and essentials, which will be donated to the worst hits areas.
"We understand the devastation that TC Harold has caused on the northern islands of Vanuatu and we would like to give back to the communities that we have been working closely with on Santo that have been affected," explained Melissa Fare, Vanuatu Cricket marketing manager.
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.
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