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Vanuatu won a vital play-off match against Samoa at the ICC East Asia-Pacific Trophy to take a step closer to the World Cricket League Division 8. Andrew Mansale was once again the hero for Vanuatu, smashing his second century of the tournament, while receiving excellent support from Jonathan Dunn and Damian Smith.
Though Samoa never gave up during the reply, Vanuatu comfortably recorded a victory which was reward for their investment in youth development in the past decade.
According to Seb Kohlhase, the Samoa Cricket president, the team had achieved their aims even before the first ball was bowled in the finals. "Our main goal was to go up the rankings and making the finals is just phenomenal," Kohlhase said. "Along the way, we have finally, after 10 years of trying, defeated the Cook Islands and that's historical. With new and younger players coming through, cricket has a vision to become a major sport in Samoa's sporting landscape.
"We have clear national and international pathways with lucrative contracts available to players overseas. We just have to build those 'roads' so our players have the exposure and right coaching to get them there. It's exciting times and definitely with cricket, players have a much longer lifespan than in the full contact games."
Paul Myers, a member of Samoa Cricket said: "We played Vanuatu in a tournament in 2001 and we beat them comfortably. They had a lot of old guys and expats in that team. A year later, Samoa hosted the tournament here in 2002 and we saw that Vanuatu had replaced all those old guys in 2001 with younger players, some as young as 18. But we beat them easily again. Come the South Pacific Games in Fiji 2003, we met the same players this time a bit older and although we won, it was a really tough match.
"I mentioned to Seb (Kohlhase), the difference this time was that Samoa now had the same old players and no young ones coming through. In 2009, some of our executives and myself are looking at where Vanuatu has grown to in the region and I doff my hat to them for putting their vision all those years ago in place, which is now bearing fruit."
Awards and Trophies
Twenty20 Trophy winner: Papua New Guinea World Cricket League winners: Papua New Guinea Non-World Cricket League winners: Vanuatu Twenty20 Player of the Tournament: Chris Amini (Papua New Guinea) World Cricket League Player of Tournament: Vani Vagi Morea (Papua New Guinea) Non-World Cricket League Player of Tournament: Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)
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