For the first time in its 19-year history, the Australian Country Cricket Championships (ACCC) will feature a team from outside Australia's borders.
The host organisation, Country Cricket Australia (CCA) has invited a combined side from the International Cricket Council's (ICC) East Asia Pacific (EAP) region to compete in the January 4 - 15 event at Mt Gambier in South Australia.
ICC EAP Development Manager Matthew Kennedy said that competing in the ACCC will provide a huge boost for cricket development in the region.
"The ICC is thrilled to have been invited to enter an East Asia Pacific representative team," Mr Kennedy said.
"The ACCC has always provided regional Australian cricketers with a chance to play high quality representative cricket. This invitation represents a terrific opportunity for East Asia Pacific's elite players to compete against Australia's best country cricketers at a nationally recognised event.
"In the future, this team could become a flagship for the East Asia Pacific to demonstrate the improving standards of play within the region."
The preliminary 32-player squad includes 15 players from Papua New Guinea (PNG), a testament to the country's status as the top cricketing nation in the region.
The squad for the ACCC is:
Cook Islands: Chris Browne, Dunu Eliaba
Fiji: Taione Batina, Joji Bulabulavu, Josefa Dabea, Colin Rika, Atunaisa Tawatatau, Waisake Tukana
Indonesia: Zacariah Awang, Soni Hawoe
Japan: Naoaki Miyaji, Hirokazu Takahashi
PNG: Chris Amini, Inoa Bauae, Jamie Brazier, Mahuru Dai, Rarua Dikana, Toka Gaudi, Noal Kariko, Vivian Kila, Richard Leka, James Maha, Ipi Morea, Alois Norri, John Ovia, Arua Uda, Assad Vala
Samoa: Uala Kaisala, Faamatala Kolio
Tonga: Sione Holi, Selusalema Vite
Vanuatu: Andrew Mansale
Eight of the region's ten countries are represented, and each player is an indigenous national of their country.
The final 14-man team will be announced in mid-October, before undertaking a two-week training camp at the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy (CBCA) in early November.
CBCA head coach Bennett King and senior coach Damien Fleming will be heavily involved during the camp, which has been made possible due to a grant from Cricket Australia to the ICC EAP Development Program.
The ICC Development Program aims to increase the number of cricket playing countries worldwide and to lift player, coach and umpire standards in developing cricket countries. East Asia Pacific is one of five development regions around the world.
For further information please contact:
Matthew Kennedy - ICC EAP Regional Development Manager
03 9653 9921
0409 218 883
Tim Anderson - ICC EAP Pacific Regional Development Officer
03 9653 9945
0407 841 850