Cricket

Patrick Matautaava drives down the ground during his 83 off 60 balls © Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Vanuatu bounced back from two tough defeats in group stage putting on a commanding performance in the World Cricket League Division 5 (WCL Div 5) semi-final against Italy in South Africa to seal their WCL Division 4 promotion and advancing to WCL Div 5 final which will see them take on Jersey on Saturday.

This WCL Div 5 competition marks the start of Vanuatu’s 2023 World Cup qualifying bid after putting on two stunning performances sending off Germany to get through to semi-finals and then sending off Italy in the semi-final.

As reported by the International Cricket Council, there were scenes of jubilation at Willowmoore B, where Vanuatu beat Italy by six wickets – thanks in large part again to Patrick Matautaava.

Vanuatu won the toss and elected to field, but that did not look like the right choice when Damian Crowley (65) and Peter Petricola (60) steered Italy to 137-2. But the spin of Jelany Chilia got Vanuatu back in the game, and he finished with three for 32.

Matautaava, Callum Blake and Andrew Mansale all chipped in with two wickets each as Italy were dismissed for 183.

Vanuatu started positively in reply, with Jonathon Dunn (39) and Joshua Rasu (35) building the innings nicely. But Matautaava, who scored a century on Wednesday to secure a semi-final spot, took over again – hitting 83 off 60 balls with 11 fours and two sixes to see them home by six wickets.

Vanuatu skipper Mansale said: “I think it is about how you perform under pressure and our boys did well with both the ball and the bat. We will relax tomorrow now.”

Italy skipper Gayashan Munasinghe said: “The batting was not that good but we cannot complain much, things just did not work for us.” - ICC

Patrick Matautaava was the star of the show for Vanuatu picking up two man of the match trophies one in group stage against Germany and another one in the semi-final against Italy.

In the match against Germany, Patrick Matautaava felt no sympathy as he thrashed the German bowlers sending balls all over the park knocking an impressive 139 runs not out with 8 SIXES and 15 FOURS surpassing Andrew Mansale’s record score of 128 and later smashing 83 runs off 60 balls against a strong Italian side in the semi-final.

Matautaava has also achieved his 1000 One-Day International (ODI) runs in South Africa making him the 3rd Vanuatu Cricket Player to reach 1000 ODI runs after skipper Andrew Mansale who was the first and Jonathon Dunn who picked up his 1000 ODI runs in South Africa during Vanuatu’s first group match against Jersey.

Other records set by Matautaava include, 182.89 the highest strike rate for an innings over 50 for a Vanuatu batsmen, 57 balls fastest 100 (Century) by a Vanuatu player, 8 SIXES being the most SIXES in an innings by a Vanuatu player and 108 runs being the most runs from boundaries in an innings by a Vanuatu player.

While Matautaava has had a lot of individual success in South Africa, team Vanuatu also had a great deal of success with how they bounced back from two devastating defeats to qualify for WCL Division 4 and all members of the team played a key role in making this happen which also saw team Vanuatu ranked in top 30 ICC’s One-day rankings for the first time.

All these success however did not happen without the help of especially National Head Coach and High Performance Manager Shane Deitz with the support from the VCA President, Mark Stafford and VCA staff and management.

Vanuatu Cricket has come a long way and have achieved a lot in the last 10 years but this promotion to WCL Div 4 and being ranked in ICC’s top 30 One-day rankings are by far the biggest achievement.

Team Vanuatu embarked on their first ever WCL Div 5 competition in 2008 and Vanuatu being a very young team came last out of the 12 participating countries. Patrick Matautaava was 15!

Jersey won the first Division 5 competition after defeating Afghanistan in the final but both teams were still promoted to Division 4 and at that stage Fiji and Italy were both playing in Division 4.

Vanuatu however started their World Cricket League Journey in the now abolished Division 8 where Vanuatu placed third remaining in Division 8. Vanuatu then went on to win the next Division 8 competition which saw them promoted to the WCL Division 7 only to find out that they had to be promoted to Division 6 as that was the last WCL Division 7.

Division 7 was a success for Vanuatu Cricket as they were once again promoted to a higher division which was Division 6.

While in Division 6 Vanuatu learnt that the WCL Division 6 competition they were going to participate in would also be the last and final Division 6 competition before it was abolished and Vanuatu would need promotion to still continue their WCL journey.

Luck and success seemed to follow Vanuatu Cricket which saw them promoted to Division 5 in the last WCL Division 6.

Last year Vanuatu embarked on another WCL Div 5 journey in Jersey which saw them place 4th and relegated back into EAP to play in the East-Asia Pacific (EAP) qualifiers to qualify for another chance in Division 5.

Vanuatu went into the EAP qualifiers in Bendigo earlier this year as favourites and walked out still favourites after dominating the competition and qualifying for this WCL Division 5 in Benoni, South Africa leaving shattering Fiji’s hopes of getting back into the WCL stage.

Nine years down the track after entering their first WCL Div 5 competition Vanuatu is on its way to WCL Division 4 with Jersey who had previously been promoted to Division 4 in 2008 and again in 2016. During their rise up the world rankings Vanuatu has beaten Italy sending them off in a commanding semi-final match and Fiji has been relegated out of the WCL competitions.

After the exciting turn of events, Vanuatu will be playing Jersey on Saturday the 9th of September in the grand final of the WCL Division 5 2017.

Raymond Nasse

Sports Editor

raymond@dailypost.vu

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