The U19 World Cup in South Africa saw a new, unlikely entrant for 2020, with Japan playing in that competition for the first time. The Asian side made a flimsy start to the competition, as they were bundled out for just 41 runs against India, with the champions chasing down that total within five overs.

Japan’s limited cricketing prowess was visible for all to see in that game, as India cruised to a convincing ten-wicket victory in what turned out to be a total mismatch of a contest. That game, however, shouldn’t have happened only, as Japan only qualified for the U19 World Cup as their group toppers Papua New Guinea (PNG) were guilty of the petty crime of shoplifting and were therefore debarred from participating in the competition.

After winning their games against Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu, the Papua New Guinea cricket team travelled to Japan for their final group game. However, that game never took place as PNG suspended 11 out of the 14 players for “for internal disciplinary reasons and failing to adhere to strict codes of conduct.”

That disciplinary reason was later revealed to be shoplifting, where those 11 players were caught for robbing stores and shoplifting. They were only released after diplomatic talks were held between the two countries. The match between the two teams was awarded to Japan.

The reprimanded PNG U19 players were handed bans and fines, with their parents being cautioned about the incident. “They were caught doing some stealing, which is a no-crime policy in Japan. It’s not as bad as people said but our point of view, my point of view and the board’s point of view are it doesn’t matter whether it’s one item or 10 items – it’s the same crime,” Cricket PNG Chief Executive Officer Greg Campbell had said in a released statement.

Japan’s U19 team play their next World Cup game on Saturday (January 25) against Sri Lanka.

Feature image: Twitter/ @CricketJapan