Locals will have the opportunity to watch two very exciting and unique games of cricket this weekend when the Vanuatu national cricket team comes to town.
20 members of the Vanuatu national side arrived in Penrith today as part of a week-long stay that will see them attend various events including a Golf Day at Leonay Golf Club, a Civic Reception at Emu Sports Club as well as participate in two games of cricket at Howell Oval.
Organiser of the tour, John Rennie, said his company, Sommers Sportswear, was contacted earlier this year by the coach of the Vanuatu cricket team asking if they could assist with sponsorship.
“I was approached immediately following Cyclone Pam, which virtually devastated the country back in March this year,” he said.
“We tried to work out how we could help and decided to assist them in supplying their cricket gear for the next three years.
“We also wanted to help out with their development, so we organised to bring them out to Australia to play a couple of matches here.”
This Saturday, August 22 from 12pm, Vanuatu will take part in a Celebrity T20 match against a number of recognisable faces including rugby league greats Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor, comedian Tim “Rosso” Ross, Seven News reporter Lee Jeloscek, Penrith Cricket Club president Paul Goldsmith as well as top local female cricketers Mikayla Hinkley and Naomi Stalenberg.
On Sunday, August 23 at 9.30am, Vanuatu will return to the Howell Oval crease to face a Penrith XI invitational side, which will feature local players from first and second grade.
Spectators are welcome to attend both games with entry free.
“Both matches will be open for people to come down and watch. The Celebrity match, in particular, will be a fun game to see,” Mr Rennie said.
Vanuatu will be officially welcomed to Penrith on Friday, August 21 with a Civic Reception at Emu Sports Club. Funds raised from this evening’s event will go directly towards the Vanuatu Cricket Association.
The team will depart Australia on Wednesday, bound for the Netherlands and England where they’ll compete in a Cricket World Cup qualifier to help improve their national ranking.
“Some of these blokes have never been out of Vanuatu before… they’ll be tickled pink for what we are doing for them,” Mr Rennie said.
– Nathan Taylor