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At 26 years old, Merielle Kenni a Ni-Vanuatu part Papua-New Guinean, is Vanuatu’s most accomplished cricket umpire and is also the country’s first woman to officiate an international match.

Completing three internationally recognised qualifications and receiving multiple invitations to umpire at international tournaments.

Kenni, whose father played cricket and introduced her to the sport, initially played club cricket for the Powerhouse Panthers and entered the international cricket space in 2017 when she made her debut in the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Women’s team as a batter for the East Asia Pacific Qualifier in Japan.

While playing club cricket, Kenni developed an interest in umpiring back in 2016. She took her first umpiring course, facilitated by the Vanuatu Cricket Association (VCA), which kickstarted her umpiring journey. Gradually, she climbed the ranks, umpiring local club matches, and completing relevant training and qualifications. In 2022, Kenni achieved a significant milestone by umpiring her first international match at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup East Asia Pacific Qualifier. Since then, she has umpired in numerous domestic tournaments and five other international tournaments across Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia.Kenni now has a Level 2 Umpiring Certification which she completed with Cricket New South Wales and has recently completed the ICC Level 1 Umpire Tutors Course while on tour with the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Women’s Team, further elevating her umpiring skills.

In a statement issued by VCA, Kenni said: “Although umpiring was intimidating at first as I had a lack of knowledge of the cricket laws, over time my knowledge grew and that gave me confidence on the field.

“I love being in the middle of the game officiating, as I find it exciting – I also get the best view of the game! “Umpiring has given me amazing opportunities to travel to other countries and meet many new wonderful people, umpiring my first international match alongside Claire Polosak is definitely my career highlight.” Kenni’s most recent umpiring stint was earlier this year for the 2024 SouthSeas Pacific Cup in Auckland, New Zealand where she officiated the Grand Final between the Papua New Guinea Lewas and the first-ever New Zealand Maori team. Looking ahead Kenni will likely follow VCA on other international tours throughout the year, as well as umpire domestic club cricket matches.

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SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST