Vanuatu yesterday was very likely the only venue in the world hosting a competitive cricket final, as most international sports remain shuttered around the world.
Vanuatu Cricket Association chief executive Shane Deitz invited anyone missing live action to tune in to the livestreaming event.
“It’s one of the only live sports around the world at the moment. We can showcase a bit of cricket for everyone who is in lockdown,” Deitz said.
Bored sports fans “can see something a bit different. We can offer some entertainment — that’s what we’re trying to do,” he added.
The Tafea Blackbirds and the Power Sharks were to play off in the morning in a women’s match, with the winner playing the Mele Bulls in the local women’s league final.
A condensed men’s exhibition match was to start at 11am, with the women’s final to follow at a stadium that Deitz is calling the VCG — the Vanuatu Cricket Grounds — in the capital, Port Vila, on the island of Efate.
They set up four cameras and were to have commentary for the online streaming on Vanuatu Cricket’s Facebook site.
Vanuatu late last month went into lockdown, as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, and was then hit by a destructive cyclone on April 6.
So while they’re celebrating a reopening of the island, there is work to be done in parts of the archipelago that are rebuilding in the wake of Cyclone Harold.
The UN last week released US$2.5 million from its emergency humanitarian fund to help thousands of people affected when the cyclone made landfall on Vanuatu’s largest island, Espiritu Santo, before hitting the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga.
In Vanuatu, the UN humanitarian office said that initial reports suggested that as much as 90 percent of the population in Sanma, the most affected province, lost their homes, and that more than half of all of the schools and almost a quarter of the health centers were damaged.
Crops were destroyed and many communities were cut off from help because of flooding and washed out roads.
The cricket association is helping with fundraising for the relief effort on Santos, where it has an office and a lot of eager players.
Cricket is a serious sport in Vanuatu.
In the past, Deitz said that stars including former Australia captain Steve Waugh and fast bowler Merv Hughes visited Port Vila.
Deitz, who made his international debut as a player in 2018, aims to keep developing the game and facilities, hoping to make Vanuatu a destination for club teams and national junior teams to practice and play.
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