Good news for all sports lovers around the world as live cricket action is set to resume this weekend on the beautiful tropical island in the South Pacific. With many of the country’s best players taking centre stage – Vanuatu will be the only venue in the world hosting a competitive cricket final on Saturday for a good cause. COVID-19 pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill including all live sporting action which suffered a grinding halt globally as governments and frontline workers strive to fight the deadly virus. Also Read - 'Cases on Rise, But Delhi Under Control,' Says CM Kejriwal as COVID-19 Tally in Capital Crosses 13,000-mark
But, Vanuatu has no cases of the Coronavirus reported so far in the last two weeks which has allowed them to resume sporting activities without any hesitation. They have become the first country where the situation is under control and suitable enough to hold live cricket action. Also Read - Instagram Influencer Auctions Her Virginity Online to Raise Funds for Covid-19, Apologises After Outrage
Vanuatu Cricket Association chief executive Shane Deitz is inviting anyone missing live-action to tune in to a live stream. Also Read - Eid Mubarak: Twitterati Keeps the Spirit of Eid Alive, Wishes For Peace & Harmony in the World
“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.
“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.”
Deitz feels the resumption will also give bored sports fans a chance to see something different. He added, “can see something a bit different. We can offer some entertainment — that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The domestic cricket will resume with the women’s club super league finals day on Saturday (April 25), with the matches being livestreamed on Vanuatu Cricket’s Facebook page.
The Tafea Blackbirds and the Power Sharks are playing off in the morning in a women’s match, with the winner playing the Mele Bulls in the women’s domestic league final.
There will also a men’s exhibition game before the women’s matches. Vanuatu will also host a men’s 40-over club championship which is set to begin on May 2. Seven teams are likely to compete in the tournament.
Vanuatu went into lockdown late last month as a precaution during the Coranavirus pandemic. However, more trouble was awaiting for the island residents as a destructive cyclone hit their shores on April 6. The tropical cyclone (TC) Harold caused widespread destruction in the region.
So while they’re celebrating a reopening — a lockdown and closed borders meant there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu — there’s work to be done in parts of the island archipelago that are rebuilding in the wake of Cyclone Harold.
The cricket association is helping with fundraising for the relief effort at Santos, where it has an office and a lot of keen players.
Last week, the United Nations released $2.5 million from its emergency humanitarian fund to help thousands of people affected when the cyclone made landfall on Vanuatu’s largest island of Espiritu Santo.
In Vanuatu, the U.N. humanitarian office said initial reports suggest as much as 90% of the population in Sanma, the most affected province, lost their homes. Crops were destroyed and many communities were cut off from help because of flooding and washed out roads.
The resumption of cricketing activity will boost the economy and help the government in raising funds for the cyclone-hit areas. 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.
In the ICC T20I ranking, Vanuatu are ranked 28th among women and 50th among the men’s teams.