WITH its inaugural tournament in 2019, The European Cricket League is A Swiss-Aussie collaboration.
It is the brainchild of Roger Feiner, a lawyer and former director of Broadcasting at FIFA, and Daniel Weston, an Aussie born international cricketer who has lived in Germany for the past 15 years.
“When we came up with the plan, I think a lot of people were thinking: what on earth is a Swiss guy doing organising a cricket tournament in Spain?” Feiner told the Olive Press.
But the tournament has already generated a buzz far beyond Spanish borders, being broadcast in at least 20 countries.
Feiner tells me about 100 million Indians are also tuning in every day.
Drone cameras ensure that each angle of the quickfire matches are shown, whilst blaring music reverberates around the ground whenever there is a wicket taken or boundary scored.
The tournament takes place at the Cartama Oval.
Surrounded by the Cartama Hills, this is an idyllic venue for cricket.
The Spanish connection to cricket is not as obscure as one might assume.
Weston tells me only London has more people who play in cricket clubs than Barcelona in the whole of Europe.
He sees the tournament as an opportunity to spread cricket around the continent.
“In Europe we have football in the winter months, and in summer there is not much sport. We would love to see kids growing up playing football in Winter and cricket in summer,” he said.
The games see 30 teams compete in shortened games, with each team bowling for ten overs each.
“Cricket on steroids” is how Weston describes it to me.
The games are indeed action packed.
In the overs I watch, almost every ball results in either runs, a boundary, or a wicket.
Already in this tournament there have been shocks, when the Italian team beat Tunbridge Wells, “Italy beats England at cricket” made national headlines.
Getting kids involved has been front and centre of the plans here.
Different schools are visiting every day where they can go into the commentators box and observe live commentary.
Both Roger and Daniel say that inspiring kids to get into cricket was one of their main priorities, “It’s about leaving a legacy,” Feiner said.
Brits, perhaps unsurprisingly, form a large proportion of the crowd.
“One thing I would like to see more of is Spanish people attending”, Feiner tells me.
“It’s free for everyone and in a beautiful location, but we have not seen them in great numbers so far, despite the fact that the Spanish team has been excellent so far in the tournament.”
I speak to Chris Williams, the captain of Tunbridge Wells, who tells me:
“The ECL has exceeded all expectations. The cricket has been really competitive. These guys can seriously strike a cricket ball.”
Group B matches take place throughout this week after Tunbridge Wells topped Group A.
Entry and car parking is free for the whole tournament.
The final of the ECL is on 18 March, 5pm.
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