East Asia-Pacific look for a stitch in time
The composite ICC East Asia-Pacific (EAP) team will open their Australian Country Championships campaign on Sunday, with Twenty20 matches against Victoria and Queensland in Albury-Wodonga.
The Championships feature combined teams from the rural/non-metropolitan areas from the five Australian mainland states and territories, the Northern Territory, who are appearing for the first time, and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra).
The event is also a chance for the EAP players to test themselves on turf wickets against experienced, albeit amateur cricketers.
The EAP squad comprises 10 players under the age of 22, one of the youngest they have ever fielded in the seven tournaments it has appeared in. A combination of international retirements and absence through other commitments (Rarua Dikana is preparing the Papua New Guinea (PNG) team for the Under-19 World Cup) has given the squad a youthful look.
The squad will have the benefit of familiarity with seven members all playing together in the PNG team. Vanuatu (3), Fiji (3) and Japan (1) provide the other players.
After Sunday's Twenty20 matches, the team will play two one-dayers and three two-day matches.
East Asia-Pacific: Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu) (capt), Chris Amini (PNG) (vice-capt), Vani Vagi Morea (PNG), Assad Vala (PNG), Jeremiah Nigani (PNG), Pipi Raho (PNG), Loa Nou (PNG), Willie Gavera (PNG), Josefa Rika (Fiji), Josaia Baba (Fiji), Sakaraia Lomani (Fiji), Trevor Langa (Vanuatu), Patrick Matautaava (Vanuatu), Masaomi Kobayashi (Japan); Charlie Burke (ICC) (coach).
January 3 v Victoria (Twenty20), v Queensland (Twenty20); January 4 v South Australia; January 5 v New South Wales; January 7-8 v Western Australia; January 10-11 v Northern Territory; January 13-14 v Australian Capital Territory.