Horowhenua-Kāpiti has started the representative cricket season with an international fixture against a Pacific Island nation and left bags of gear behind for schoolchildren.

The team has returned from playing two matches against Vanuatu - ranked 58th in the world - and while they were soundly beaten, the experience would hold them in good stead ahead of their Furlong Cup campaign.

Off the field, player-coach Chad Law said they spent time visiting schools and coaching island youngsters.

"During our Sunday visit to Hideaway Island the team played beach cricket with the local Mele Village kids who were swimming on the mainland. It was an awesome highlight and one experience we will never forget," he said.

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"The children had plenty of talent and locals were familiar with the game. We left all the cricket gear with the kids."

The team also visited a school and played cricket, and were joined by some of the Vanuatu team, and joined in with maths and spelling lessons.

Horowhenua-Kapiti cricket side played a match against Vanuatu while on tour.
Horowhenua-Kapiti cricket side played a match against Vanuatu while on tour.

"We left HKCA Cubs Cricket Packs with all these classes so they could continue playing our game after we had gone. The smiles and laughter of the children will remain a highlight with all who took part for a long time to come," he said.

Vanuatu Development Manager Pierre Chilia was thankful for the gesture and the new gear would reach children throughout the wider islands of Vanuatu.

Chilia invited the team to Mele Village for a traditional meal cooked in an umu and the tasted village life, with pigs and dogs roaming freely.

They were embraced as members of the Mele Village and were sung a farewell song, in what Law said was a moving experience.

They also attended a function naming the Vanuatu side to take on the World Cup Challenge League in Malaysia this week.

"Our team got to interact and enjoy the company of the Vanuatu players who were exceptionally humble and good natured," he said.

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Law said it was an opportunity that would provide the squad with lifelong memories and hold them in good stead for the start of the season.

As for the cricket, HK captain Andre Halbert won the toss in their first match against Vanuatu elected to bowl, with newcomers Dyland Reder and Ajay Kumar debuting.

Vanuatu cashed in with 277-4 in 35 overs, with one batsman reaching a century. Liam Pinfold was the best of the HK bowlers with 2-45 from his eight overs, while Fraser Bartholomew was economical.

Law said changeable weather made it hard to get any traction against a quality Vanuatu batting line-up, who were now coached by former Australian representative Clint McKay.

Horowhenua-Kapiti played the international on an artificial pitch on the island.
Horowhenua-Kapiti played the international on an artificial pitch on the island.

"The lads were disappointed in the result, however knew that the fixture was only a stepping stone in the season's journey," he said.

Law said HK was disappointed at being all out for 95, and turned their attention to the second game, where they fared much better.

Halbert again won the toss, and this time chose to bat.

The teams were playing on a hybrid pitch that was a mixture of soil and artificial grass, with an artificial base. It was rolled and covered like a normal pitch, but was more suitable to the weather on the island.

"I've never seen anything like it," Law said. "It's half synthetic with some soil from the SCG."

HK batted well putting up a respectable total of 158/8 off 40 overs, with Matt Good (37) and Law himself (24) the pick of the batsman.

Rain continued to play its part in reducing overs. Vanuatu batted for 25 overs in fading light and found it tougher than the previous match and finished on 142/4 after 25 overs.

It was an improved performance from the HK bowlers with Carter Andrew carding 2-24 off eight overs, including two maidens.

During the game Vanuatu Cricket was presented with a huge parcel of donated cricket gear from HK, Central Districts Cricket and NZ Cricket by HK chairman David O'Brien and CD's Nigel Brooke.

Last season the HK squad had a pre-season trip to Melbourne and finished third in the Furlong Cup, and produced rare first-innings wins against both Hawke's Bay and Whanganui.