Vanuatu Cricket Association (VCA) has appointed and announced Patrick Matautaava as the new captain and Junior Kaltapau as the vice-captain of the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Men’s cricket team during the VCA’s 2020 Annual General Meeting on Wednesday September 1st.
Patrick Matautaava was appointed as the captain after former captain, Nalin Nipiko stepped down from captaincy duties earlier this year and Junior Kaltapau was appointed as the vice-captain. Both men were appointed into these leadership roles because they displayed great leadership qualities and great commitment and attitude towards the team and making a difference through cricket.
Jeremy Bray, the high-performance manager and head coach, was part of the selection process and he expressed that Matautaava and Kaltapau are both outstanding players who deserve the leadership roles they have been given.
“Patrick and Junior are both great players and individuals who have been outstanding with their performances, attitude towards their team and cricket and the overall culture they encourage within the team makes them great leaders.
“Both of them are very good role models in their own way plus the fact that they are both very talented and, with the skills they have to offer cricket wise, they will be huge assets for Vanuatu cricket for many years to come.
“Pat (Matautaava) is one of the most experienced players in the squad, one of the most consistent and best performers over many years and one of, if not the most respected members of the squad which makes him a great fit for captaincy. Cricket wise, he has made great strides in adding more elements to his batting and his bowling performances for Vanuatu speak for itself. Patrick will start being a very dominant figure performance wise all-round when we get back out on the field again in tournaments which is what we need from the captain.
“With regards to vice-captain, we were looking for a someone who will not necessarily be the next captain but someone who leads by example both on and off the field and does everything that a professional athlete does or strives to do. Junior fitted that bill perfectly and he’s earned that role,” expressed Bray.
Junior Kaltapau, an uncapped player who is yet to make his debut for the Vanuatu men’s team has and is continuing to be a success story for Vanuatu Cricket. He was first introduced to cricket on Santo and was later selected for the Vanuatu Cricket Scholarship program in 2016 through his determination, commitment, and willingness to learn. Since then, he played for the Vanuatu national U19s cricket team, graduated high school from Malapoa College, was promoted into the senior men’s national team and is now the vice-captain of the men’s team.
“Junior’s work ethic is second to none and he goes about his business in a quiet but very professional way. His improvements over the last 6 months are very evident through his standout performances at the club level with his club, the Panthers. I have no doubt he will be a very good player that will contribute strongly when he represents Vanuatu and I have no doubt he will have a long and fruitful career in cricket,” said Bray.
With a lot of uncertainty and cancellation of tournaments this year, the Vanuatu men’s team will have to push themselves even harder to stay motivated to train and prepare for when there are tournaments. Jeremy Bray, said that while this is mentally tough for the players, he believes that with the new leadership and team culture, the team will be ready for the first tournament they will be able to compete in.
“I believe the squad is in a good place both fitness wise and skill wise and I also feel that they really like the positive brand of cricket we are looking to play which matches their own individual flair. The leadership will compliment all of this, so I am very excited about the future and looking forward to playing other opposition again to test and see where we are at,” he said.
In addition to the appointment of the leaders of the team, the VCA has also restructured their contract system to provide more meaningful opportunities for the selected players in the national men’s training squad.
Since 2017, players in the national men’s squad have been employed as cricket development officers and with the growth of the team locally and globally, the VCA made the decision to employ them fulltime as national players. This decision was focused on their development as professional cricketers and ambassadors of Vanuatu.
The new system is a yearly contract system which replaces the open-ended agreements and has a structured annual review process around selections. The new system features four separate tiers, A through D, which allows the VCA to better incentivize their elite male cricketers.
Tim Cutler, VCA CEO, played a key role in ensuring the best contract system was chosen, expressed that the tiers do not mean that the D contract is the ‘lowest’ tier, but it means that players in tiers A, B and C, will have a primary focus on cricket while the four D (Development) contracts will see the players split their time 50/50 between cricket and work as Development Officers.
Cutler believes that this new system will benefit the entire VCA from several perspectives.
“All players are now clearer on their roles and responsibilities having signed an additional player agreement which explicitly states what is expected of them as professional athletes, and our development team will now be better off and able to plan their schedules better as the four men’s players join the four women in joint playing/development roles.
“However, the expectations on the players are very clear; they are not only professional athletes but also representatives for the sport, the VCA, and the country. Alongside all staff, every contracted player will now be trained as Ambassadors on our Social Impact Programs, and it will be expected that they exhibit the qualities inspired by those programs in everything they do.
“The reduction in contract numbers also mean we can fill critical roles in marketing and development.
Cutler concluded by saying, “While we may not have been able to play any international cricket since October 2019 this has not dampened the attitude shown by our players, and those who have shown the best application to their training and domestic cricket have been rewarded with higher tiered contracts as we approach the second round of CWC Challenge League later this year."
The contracted players under the new yearly contract system are as follows:
Tier A: Patrick Matautaava (C), Junior Kaltapau (VC), Nalin Nipiko
Tier B: Apolinaire Stephen, Williamsing Nalisa, Rival Sampson, Simpson Obed
Tier C: Joshua Rasu, Philip Tsione, Obed Yosef
Tier D: Darren Wotu, Godfrey Mangau, Nono Ruku Chilia, Ronald Tari
Vanuatu Cricket Association would like to acknowledge the support from the VCA board, the players and other staff throughout this process.