Vanuatu have claimed their first-ever win at an ICC Women’s Pathway Event, emerging victorious at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup East Asia Pacific (EAP) Qualifier after a perfect six wins from six matches.
The home team started the tournament with a big win over pre-event favourites, Papua New Guinea, defeating the tournament’s top-ranked team by five wickets. From there, the island nation went on to claim victory over each other team in a dominant performance in front of their cheering fans.
The accolades didn’t stop there, as Vanuatu also had a clean sweep of the individual tournament awards. Batter of the Tournament and Player of the Tournament, Rachel Andrew, showed her skill throughout the tournament with a classy 151 runs, nine wickets, and four catches across the event. Impressively, 16-year-old Vanessa Vira on her T20I debut, claimed the Bowler of the Tournament award with 11 wickets across the six matches at an average of 25.17 and strike rate of 10.9.
Speaking after the last match Vanuatu Women’s captain Selina Solman said, “The feeling is unreal. I feel like I’m dreaming, and it hasn’t sunk in yet. There have been so many people congratulating us and I can’t wait to make them all proud at Global Qualifier.”
The tournament came down to the final match of the final day, with Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia all in contention for the top spot. The Papua New Guinea ‘Lewas’ were the highest-ranked T20I team coming into the event but dropping points to Vanuatu in the tournament’s opening match proved to be their undoing.
Tournament surprise packet, Indonesia, impressed with four wins from six matches. This feat is even more impressive as they missed the first two days of the event due to flight cancellations.
The event in Vanuatu was a true celebration of women’s cricket in the East Asia Pacific. The tournament boasted an entirely female umpire panel, and the ICC also hosted the 100% Cricket Women’s Leadership Program on the sidelines.
The Program, supported by the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports, focused on upskilling female athletes, commentators and coaches on leadership, women’s health, and media skills to be applied both on and off the field. Facilitated in part by former Australian cricketer and Fox Sports commentator, Mel Jones, the sessions were attended by all female athletes at the Qualifier.
Speaking on the sidelines Mel Jones said, “World Cups are pathways for so many more people than just the players. Coaches, administrators, and commentators all have desires to reach the pinnacle of their fields as well.”
“The leadership program held at the East Asia Pacific Qualifier highlighted the talent in the game away from the field and it provided an engaging and supportive environment for players and commentators to develop their media skills,” he added.
Tournament Individual Awards:
Batter of the Tournament: Rachel Andrew (Vanuatu) – 6 innings, 151 run, Avg 25.17
Bowler of the Tournament: Vanessa Vira (Vanuatu) – 6 innings, 11 wickets, Avg 6.91
Player of the Tournament: Rachel Andrew (Vanuatu) – 151 runs, 9 wickets, 4 catches