The almost three-year hiatus in international cricket for Vanuatu will soon come to an end as the Vanuatu Cricket Association announce the 15-strong side bound for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Challenge League in Canada in mid-July.
Amongst the team the Association have announced five debutants who have come through Vanuatu Cricket's development program.
Left-arm spinner, Obed Yosef, the first of the possible debutants has made a name for himself as the premier left-arm bowler in Vanuatu which has earned him a spot in the squad of 15 alongside the likes of wicket keeper/batters Jarryd Allan and Bethan Viraliliu who have impressed with the gloves and bat over the past few seasons with the latter also being a former Vanuatu U19 captain. Finally, Rival Samson comes in as another leg spin option for the side having shown his capabilities for local club side the Splashe Mele Bulls.
Arguably though, the biggest debutant will be the player named vice captain for the tour, Junior Kaltapau, whose outstanding professionalism and performances have earned him a spot and the honour of being chosen as the vice-captain of Vanuatu, a proud moment indeed for him and his family.
High Performance Manager Ben Cameron felt selection was never easy, but said that that he is proud of the strong team Vanuatu have going into this tour.
“It's an exciting time for the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Cricket Men’s National Team, as the reality of travelling to Canada to compete is finally on our doorstep. The past five weeks of the program has had a strong focus investing in 50-over cricket, not only with the North vs South Provincial series but also during the week at training.
"All players have had up to eight opportunities to perform strongly and put their hand up for selection. We facilitated a very strong process which included collaboration across the board from coaches, captain and the national selection panel to finalise what we feel is a very flexible and strong squad to compete hard in Canada.
"Our focus now is to prepare the squad of 15 players to the best of our ability over the next three weeks and represent Vanuatu on the international stage.”
Familiar faces in the side include Captain Patrick Matautaava who is currently playing abroad professionally in Denmark, former Vanuatu Captain Andrew Mansale, star all-rounders Nalin Nipiko, Apolinaire Stephen and Simpson Obed, Wicket Keeper/batter Jamal Vira, Opening batters Joshua Rasu and Ronald Tari, leg spinner Williamsing Nalisa and fast bowler Darren Wotu.
Vanuatu, who are currently sitting in 6th place, will join the second leg of the Challenge league alongside Denmark, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore and hosts Canada. With lots of work to do, new captain, and all rounder Patrick Matautaava believes this group can achieve something special.
“I’m very pleased with the squad and I can proudly say we will do our best to make Vanuatu proud.
"We have been through so many challenges over the past couple of years but now we feel like we can finally stand up and raise the Vanuatu flag above the others. We have just witnessed some fantastic achievements from our friends in other disciplines at the Pacific Mini games and so we feel we also have an opportunity to do the same.
"This crop of boys I feel has the potential to do some special things this year and with the new leadership of the VCA, Ben, and the new team members I cannot wait to lead them out onto the field for the first time as captain."
The Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu National Men’s Cricket team will depart for Canada for the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League 2 in Canada on the 16th of July.
The squad selected to represent Vanuatu is:
1) Patrick Matautaava (Captain, Splashe Mele Bulls)
2) Junior Kaltapau (Vice Captain, Tusker Panthers CC)
3) Jarryd Allan (Tusker Panthers CC)
4) Andrew Mansale (Splashe Mele Bulls)
5) Williamsing Nalisa (Tafea CC)
6) Nalin Nipiko (Ifira Blackbird CC)
7) Simpson Obed (Might Saints CC)
8) Joshua Rasu (Tusker Panthers CC)
9) Apolinaire Stephen (Paama Sharks)
10) Ronald Tari (North Efate Bushpigs)
11) Jamal Vira (Paama Sharks)
12) Ala Viraliliu (Paama Sharks)
13) Darren Wotu (Tafea Sandal
14) Obed Yosef (Paama Sharks)
15) Rival Samson (travelling reserve, Splashe Mele Bulls)