21 Mar 2019

Sport: Cyclone delays start of cricket qualifiers in PNG

2:10 pm on 21 March 2019

A water-logged outfield meant no cricket was possible on day one of the T20 World Cup Regional Qualifying Final for East Asia Pacific.

Despite a sunny day in Port Moresby on Wednesday, the ground at Amini Park remained too wet underfoot, following the effects of Cyclone Trevor.

Hosts Papua New Guinea were scheduled to play both Vanuatu and the Philippines on day one of competition.

Amini Park is the home of cricket in Papua New Guinea.

Amini Park is the home of cricket in Papua New Guinea. Photo: Cricket PNG

Vanuatu Cricket CEO Shane Deitz said all three teams are playing a waiting game at the moment and the best case scenario is for matches to get underway on Friday.

"The square looks reasonably dry - there's also an artificial pitch we might be able to play on," he said.

"It's just a couple of spots in the outfield that are just a complete bog - you stand there and sink down about four or five inches into the mud - but (by Wednesday) afternoon it had hardened up a lot more and tomorrow a good day of sunshine I think we're a good chance to play on Friday."

The Vanuatu men advanced to the East Asia Pacific final by finishing runners-up behind Papua New Guinea in the first qualifying round last August.

The national squad arrived in Port Moresby fresh from playing a ten-day stint in Brisbane where Shane Deitz said they played six matches to get themselves in top match condition.

"We're really ready so we were pretty disappointed to turn up here and see the conditions - nothing PNG Cricket can do about it, they had a lot of rain last week, particularly Friday and Saturday, and the ground was under water," he said.

PNG and Vanuatu are competing for a berth in the final ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier.

PNG and Vanuatu are competing for a berth in the final ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier. Photo: Facebook/Vanuatu Cricket

"Nothing they can do about it, they've been working really hard to get the ground up to standard to be able to play on."

Peter Buchanan was appointed national head coach in January, with Shane Deitz moving into a new role as CEO of Vanuatu Cricket.

The pair will be sharing coaching duties in Port Moresby and Deitz admitted he was finding it hard to let go of the reins.

"I've been with the team for over four years and we have a very close relationship, I love working with these guys," he said.

"Unfortunately Peter's got a CEO who still wants to be a coach part of the time so I'll have to let the reins go fully after this tournament and let Peter do his job."

Vanuatu player/coach Shane Deitz has top scored against Jersey and Malaysia.

Vanuatu Cricket CEO Shane Deitz even played for the national team in 2018. Photo: Ron Zwiers

Shane Deitz acknowledged the PNG Barramundis were favoured to advance to the final ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in October but believed Vanuatu were capable of causing an upset.

"They're obviously a very good side on their home soil. They'll be tough to beat and definitely deserving favourites for this tournament but cricket's a funny game, particularly T20," he said.

"And throw a little bit of wet weather and unknown into the mix so it probably evens it up a little bit and puts a little but more pressure on them and for us we can just go in and play with freedom, knowing that all we have to do is just give it our best shot and if things fall our way we could be a good chance."

Cyclone Trevor, which has battered northern Queensland, looks to continue causing destruction as it moves over the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria.

Trevor will reintensify to a Category 3 later today before becoming a 4 by the weekend as it continues its path towards the Top End.