ICC EAP 2005
Thursday 29 September 2005
Japan have claimed their first ICC cricket title with a thrilling six run victory at Club Hippique in the final of the East Asia - Pacific (EAP) Cricket Cup Tournament in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The Cooks won the toss and sent Japan into bat on another misty day at Club Hippique.  Hirokazu Takahashi and Tetsuro Chino started cautiously against the might of Dunu Eliaba (2/19 off 9 overs) and Chris Brown (2/19 off 8.2 overs).  Takahashi was the first out LBW to Brown for 9.  Jummei Hanada (0) and final round hero Sriram Sampath (10) came and went quickly and Japan was reduced to 3/38 in the 15th over.
Masaomi Kobayashi (16), Tetsuo Fuji (3) and Patrick Giles-Jones (7) all got started without taking control but wicketkeeper and opener Tetsuro Chino batted responsibly and patiently to record 51 off 120 balls.  After Chino was the 7th wicket to fall Naoki Miyaji ensured the 150 was surpassed with a brisk 13 before Japan were dismissed in the 48th over for 161.  Wicketkeeper
Ioane Tangimetua was a star for the Cooks with 5 catches behind the stumps.
The fired up Japanese took the field after lunch and had an immediate impact with speedster Patrick Giles-Jones clean bowling Tereapii Mamanu with the fourth ball of the innings.  Giles-Jones snared another two wickets in his opening spell, including that of key batter Dunu Eliaba (10), to finish with the impressive figures of 3/31 off 10 overs.  At 4/45 in the 13th over, the Cooks were in real strife.
As has been the case throughout the tournament, Player Of The Series Chris Brown steadied the ship and shared in a 56 run partnership with Tuakana Marukore to swing the game back in the favour of the Islanders.  Legspinner Kenji Murata was introduced in the 31st over and in the 35th over made himself a hero holding onto a sharp caught and bowled chance to remove Brown for a mature 45.  The Cooks were now 5/106 and the game was swinging again.
Marukore was now carrying the load and took the responsibility to keep his country in the game.  His gutsy knock of 55 was ended after the re-introduction of opening bowler Naoki Miyaji who trapped him LBW with the score on 153.  The Cooks now needed 8 to win with only 2 wickets in hand.
The tension and nervousness at Club Hippique could be felt and coaches and players from both teams walked laps of the ground to try and keep their nerves under control.  The 9th wicket fell clean bowled to Miyaji shortly afterwards and the last pair needed to score the remaining 7 runs for victory.  Miyaji had other ideas and in his very next over he speared one at the hip of Moumou Marurai who gloved it down the leg side for wicketkeeperChino to dive athletically to his left and complete the catch.
Once the umpire's finger was raised the Japanese players broke into spontaneous jubilation as they all rushed Chino to congratulate him for his super catch.  The enthusiastic Japanese band of supporters watching from thesidelines also erupted with joy and danced in unison in support of their countrymen.

In all, it was a fitting cliffhanger to a week of tense, exciting and dramatic cricket at the first international cricket event ever held in

In the playoff games, a committed Vanuatu claimed 3rd spot with a 6 wicket win against a deflated Tonga at KaZaa Field.  Tonga, struggling to get themselves up after yesterday's disappointment of missing the final, were rolled for 105 with Vanuatu spin twins Andrew Mansale (2/22 off 10 overs) and Andrew Gardiner (3/26 off 5 overs) doing the damage.  Gardiner, who turned 16 two weeks ago, made an auspicious international debut claiming three wickets in his first over.  Simione Latu was the only Tongan to offerany resistance with 28 off 23 balls.
Vanuatu knocked off the required runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 34 overs with Mansale completing his man of the match performance with 46no.  Viliami Tupouniua toiled hard for Tonga with 3/23 off 10 overs.

Indonesia made light work of Samoa at Independence Park in the 5th and 6th place playoff dismissing the Polynesians for 71 and passing their score in only 23 overs.  Fuimaono Konelio again top scored for Samoa with 45 and Wayan Suandi (4/25) and John Stevenson (4/17) did the damage with the ball. John Stevenson completed a good personal day for Indonesia with 21 in their
run chase.

By finishing first and second, both Japan and Cooks Islands have qualified for the EAP Cricket Trophy to be played in mid-2006.  The EAP Cricket Trophy tournament will involve Japan, Cook Islands and Fiji in a three way battleto claim a place in the World Cricket League in early 2007.

Full results from the EAP Cricket Cup can be found at http://www.icc-eap-cricket.com by following the EAP Cricket Cup link. 

Final EAP Cricket Cup Ladder

1.    Japan
2.    Cook Islands
3.    Vanuatu
4.    Tonga
5.    Indonesia
6.    Samoa

Russell James - Tournament Director - EAP Cricket Cup
Martin Gleeson - EAP Development Officer