They will get there through a sixteen-team qualifying event in the UAE in October. The top six teams from the last Qualifier have been granted automatic berths in the tournament, along with the hosts. This leaves nine more places that will be composed thus:
- One nation from the East-Asia-Pacific region.
- Two nations from the Africa region.
- Two nations from the Americas region.
- Two nations from the Asia region.
- Two nations from the Europe region.
The first of the Regional Qualifiers was held in Auckland for the EAP region. As expected the odds-on favourites Papua New Guinea progressed through the tournament with a 100% win record and a defeat of Vanuatu in the final. With the bat, young talents Asad Vala and Chris Kent hit 599 runs between them, showing off that they are a level above the rest of the talent in their Region.
However, despite PNG’s dominance, some of the other teams refused to roll over and be beaten. 28-year-old Faasao Mulavi of Samoa hammered a 25-ball 62 that included no less than nine sixes, and which took his team to within seventeen runs of a shock victory. They had also pushed Vanuatu down to the wire after Daniel Burgess hit a fighting fifty from number eight to post a target that required Vanuatu’s number eleven to hit the winning runs.
All in all, though, Papua New Guinea ended a predictable tournament largely untested to become the first of the nine teams to qualify for the Qualifier. In the UAE they will hope to be boosted once again by the presence of Geraint Jones who would add to a strong batting line-up.
The next update will be from Kampala where Kenya try to fight back from the low points of their last qualifying campaign. Until then, goodbye.