The European leg of regional qualifiers started in August 2018 in the Netherlands. Eighteen countries battled their mettle in 45 matches across three groups to pursue the 2019 six-team European Finals.
Say Hello To 6 New International Teams!
The European leg of regional qualifiers started in August 2018 in the Netherlands. Eighteen countries battled their mettle in 45 matches across three groups to pursue the 2019 six-team European Finals.
These finals are slated to happen in a single round-robin event between 15th and 20th June in the Channel Island of Guernsey. The host country itself is a strong contender for the October qualifiers with a regional stage W/L ratio of 4 to 1. Other participants are Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Jersey.
One European team from the 2019 ICC T20 WC Europe Qualifier Finals in June will advance to the UAE leg of qualification.
Earlier in 2018, ICC arranged 12 regional qualifiers with 61 teams competing in five global territories – Africa (3 groups), Europe (3), Asia (2), Americas (2), and East Asia Pacific (2). From these dozen qualifiers emerged 25 teams, who are eyeing 7 spots available at the 2019 ICC UAE-qualifiers in October through five regional finals.
The seven regionally qualified teams will join the host, and ICC No. 11 - 16 ranked T20 teams (as of 31.12.18) in the United Arab Emirates to decide which six teams will join Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the group stage of the ICC T20 World Cup 2020. Finally, four countries from the group level will join ICC rankings 1 - 8 to contest the Super12 to determine the 2020 World T20 champion.
Also, every T20 is an international now after ICC granted international status to all the shortest-form games played between Members 2019 onwards.
Therefore, as many as four European countries would be making their T20 international debuts in June, as Germany and Belgium are making history in May.
Here is a preview of all six teams in the 2019 Europe Finals staged in Guernsey:
A cursory look at the points table of Group A of 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier would tell you that Denmark had a breeze, and Germany barely made it to the Europe Finals. Actually, it was quite the contrary. Germany’s game against Denmark suffered from intermittent rain, while against Austria, they came agonisingly close to chasing 143.
Nonetheless, they mauled Cyprus and France and faced no difficulty in brushing aside Portugal. The batting stars of Germany’s 2018 Europe campaign were the opening duo of Mudassar Muhammad (150 runs at a SR of 158) and wicket-keeper Daniel Weston (180 runs at an average of 45), who was also the Player of the Series. Their willow-wielding was well-complemented by the off-breaks of Abdul-Shakoor Rahimzei, and the skiddy economy of former Afghan-national Izatullah Dawlatzai.
More significantly, Germany’s chances to seal the European birth in June have potentially received a massive boost in the form of Ollie Rayner (former England Lions player), Craig Meschede (Glamorgan), Dieter Klein (Leicestershire), and Michael Richardson (Durham). All of whom have vowed their support to Germany’s cause of ICC T20 World Cup Europe finals in Guernsey by virtue of holding German passports. Here is a brief of their credentials:
Ollie once took 15/118 in a first-class game, and also scored two red ball hundreds while appearing for MCC and Sussex.
Craig Meschede - an English-South African is a fantastic addition because the lad is only 27 with already 216 representative games under his belt. He strikes at 130 in T20s, and a takes a wicket every 3.2 overs.
Dieter Klein is a left-arm medium-fast bowler with close to 200 first class and 60 limited overs wickets on his resume.
Michael Richardson, son of a certain David Richardson (CEO of some ICC), brings with him the wealth of 176 representative games.
Before the ICC Europe T20 WC Qualifiers, history would be meeting Germany in May 2019, when this Western European country would be making its T20 international debut against Belgium. Then Germany will play Italy in what will be the Italians first internationals when they meet for two T2o's on May 25 at Ultrecht, Netherlands
History of Cricket in Germany
First definite record of a cricket activity in Germany goes back to 1858 when a group of Englishmen and Americans established the maiden German cricket club in Berlin. The game flourished in the ensuing decades and formed a close link with football, which was evident in the formation of the German Football and Cricket Federation (DFCB) in 1891. In the Early 1900s, the Deutsche Cricket Bund (DCB) parted ways, but cricket was slowly dying in the country two millennia old, and by the end of WWII, cricket nearly became non-existent.
The immigration wave of the ‘60s and ‘70s revived the game and led to the creation of a renewed Deutsche Cricket Bund (DCB) in ‘88. Three years later, Germany became an ICC Affiliate Member and was promoted to the Associate status in 1999.
Cricket in Germany Today
In 2012 there were about 1,500 cricketers and 70 teams listed with the DCB. Today, more than 10,000 cricketers are playing across 350 teams. The influx of Afghan refugees and Asian immigrants have spurred the wings of cricket across Germany. In fact, more than 450 refugee projects were facilitated by the DCB in 2016 to increase participation at the grassroots level.
Organised cricket is divided into six regions, with a greater emphasis on increasing youth and women participation. All the regions have their own leagues, the winners of whom compete for the National Championship. The men’s senior team gained promotion to ICC WCL (Europe) Division I in 2016 after conquering an ICC tournament in Sweden. Backed by recent results and fresh reinforcements, hopes of a German triumph in Guernsey are not unfounded.
Denmark is one of the strongest European cricket team alongside Italy and Norway. It remained undefeated in its Group A of 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier and registered a remarkable NRR of +3.32 across 5 T20s. The Danes secured their Europe berth by beating Portugal by seven wickets in September 2018. Saad Ahmad took 4-17, while Anders Bulow and Taranjit Bharaj shone with the bat. Across the 2018 European campaign, Mads Henriksen impressed with his striking ability (SR of 144), and Nicolaj Laegsgaard with his slow left-arm guile (9 wickets at an economy of 2.85).
Denmark are scheduled to play its maiden T20I against Norway on 15 June 2019 - the opening day of the Europe Finals. The Scandinavian country is preparing for the crucial campaign by playing three T20 warm-up matches against Lightning Bolts in May at College Park, Trinity.
History of Cricket in Denmark
In the mid-19th century, a few Danish teachers went to England on a study visit and brought back enlightened minds and the game of cricket. A couple of decades later, English railway engineers working in the country established cricket clubs in the cities of Odense and Randers. The majority of these clubs combined the cricket initiatives with football which resulted in cricket been organised by Dansk Boldspil Union - the Danish Football Association.
In 1953, the Dansk Cricket-Forbund (DCF) was formed to oversee the game of cricket in the Kingdom of Denmark. The next year, Denmark’s national team played its first international game against an Oxford University XI featuring the likes of M.J.K. Smith and Colin Cowdrey. The International Cricket Conference (as it was called in the 1960's) made Denmark an Associate Member in 1966, and since then Danish cricketers have taken part in both the ICC and ECC (European Cricket Council) tournaments. In fact, in the 2001 ICC Trophy, Denmark was on the brink of qualifying for the 2003 World Cup but lost the crunch game against Canada.
Cricket in Denmark Today
Denmark has produced six cricketers professional enough to play English county cricket. The pace bowlers Søren Henriksen (Lancashire), Ole Mortensen (Derbyshire), Thomas Hansen (Hampshire), Søren Vestergaard (Warwickshire), and Amjad Khan (Kent/Sussex). In fact, the current Danish wicket-keeper Frederik Klokker was one of the ground staff at MCC for years before playing for Derbyshire, Warwickshire, and Excelsior (Holland).
Denmark has an ever-expanding development program with endeavours such as the Viborg Academy which has joined hands with Handball to invite promising teenagers to train and study at the Academy. Moreover, the educational program Spil Cricket is teaching young Danish cricketers the fundamentals of cricket and the protocols of involvement.
Italy is one of the European powerhouses of cricket. It showed its prowess by being undefeated in its Group B of 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier. The Gayashan Munasinghe-led team secured their top group position by easily beating Jersey by 5 wickets at the Voorburg Cricket Ground. The batting star of the 2018 campaign was Nicholas Maiolo, who tonked 205 runs (22 boundaries) across 5 T20s. On the bowling front, the slow left-arm pair of Rakibul Hasan and Madupa Fernando took eight wickets each.
History of Cricket in Italy
The roots of cricket in Italy mushroom back to 1793 when Naples hosted the first-ever recorded game under the patronage of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Clubs started forming in the late 19th century in Turin and Milan with the Genoa Cricket & Football Club being the most prominent one. However, the rise of Fascism systematically eroded the game, which only regained momentum after World War II.
The modern history of Italian cricket begins with the formation of the Associazione Italiana Cricket in 1980. Four years later, ICC recognised the organisation as an Affiliate Member, and in 1995 granted it an Associate status. The elevated ICC status didn’t go unnoticed by the government, who promoted the Associazione to Federazione Cricket Italiana in 1997.
Buoyed by a boosted position in the cricket world, Italy stunned the international cricketing community on 25th July 1998 by comprehensively beating an ECB XI by six wickets at the European Championships. In fact, Joe Scuderi, the architect of that memorable win, went on to become the first Italian cricketer to play county cricket, when the fast-bowling all-rounder was signed by Lancashire. It’s no surprise that today Joe Scuderi is the national cricket coach of Italy.
Cricket in Italy Today
Today, the national team is a stable presence in the ICC global top 30 rankings and came quite close to qualifying for 2014 ICC World Twenty20 tournament. The Federazione is completing its 4th decade of organised governance with game-development in an alien environment being the top priority. This means dramatically expanding participation at the school level by uplifting the playing facilities.
Focus is also firmly placed on cricket education by creating fresh batches of coaches, umpires, and scorers to improve the national team’s WCL Division Five position. Clubs registered with the Federation participate in A-League, Super 40 League, Italian Cup, T20s, and Interregional games. Moreover, high-performance programs at the senior, underage, and women level are also functioning productively with the ladies being the success story of recent years.
International Status Calling
2019 is a significant year for team Italy with the ICC Europe Finals just around the corner. The national squad intensely trained itself at the Desert Springs cricket resort in Alicante for the jaunt in June, and also played two friendly affairs against an English New Farnley XI. Furthermore, the moment of international reckoning is merely weeks away for Italy, who would be playing their maiden T20I against another debutant, Germany from 23 - 25 May in the Netherlands.
Jersey’s 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier campaign started with an underwhelming performance against European giant Italy. However, the Channel Islanders backed their skills and wits to decimate Spain, Belgium, Isle of Man, and Finland to qualify for the 2019 ICC Europe Finals in Guernsey. The all-around excellence of Benjamin Ward (113 runs and 7 wickets), the batting of Ben Stevens (122 runs), and 21-years old Jonty Jenner (124 runs) were the mainstay of Jersey’s ascendance.
Jersey will play its fellow Crown dependency Guernsey in their maiden T20I on 15 June 2019 at King George V Sports Ground, Castel.
History of Cricket in Jersey
The history of cricket in this Channel Island dates back to the mid-19th century. The Jersey Island Cricket Club (JICC) was created in 1922, and two years later MCC came visiting. The time between the Great Wars witnessed the initiation of cricket trophies in 1921 and 1932, and the tradition carries till this day. However, both World Wars hampered the game’s growth in Jersey.
In the late ‘90s, the Channel Islands Cricket Board was formed as part of the English Cricket Board.
The Jersey Rivalry Against Guernsey
In the late ‘40s, matches between the Jersey Island Cricket Club (JICC) and Guernsey Island Cricket Club (GICC) started taking place and took an annual shape in 1950. The games between JICC and GICC were dubbed inter-insular affairs and are credited with popularising the game besides kick-starting the Channel Islands rivalry.
Jersey won its first dual in 1960 but didn’t overwhelm their neighbours until the ‘90s. During that decade, they won ten games on the trot, before succumbing to five consecutive defeats in the first half of the ‘00s. These regular affairs mandated more competitive games for the players, which was not an option under the patronage of ECB. Therefore, an ECC membership was sought and achieved in 2005, which saw the creation of the Jersey Cricket Board.
Cricket in Jersey Today
Jersey was the 33rd country to become an ICC Associate Member. Today, the Channel Island of about 100,000 people is ranked 6th best in Europe, and 28th in the Cricket World. Their most remarkable moment came in 2015 when they clinched ICC Europe Division One and also made it to the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers. The self-governing dependency hosted the 2016 World Cricket League Division 5.
Today, the Jersey Cricket Board is on a mission to evolve a sustainable structure that will accord cricket opportunities to all, while increasing participation and improving performance. The organisation envisions to achieve its mission through excellent homegrown talent and mutual respect.
The Crown dependency participates in ICC European and Global competitions at several age groups and also hosts such events. Its competitive development programs are making real progress at the grassroots level, and are also extending opportunities to the National U-11s to U-19s squads. Moreover, women cricket continues to grow as the Board is seeking more significant playing opportunities away from home.
Norway sailed through the Group C of 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier to top the group with a perfect win record, and a NRR of +2.356. The all-around brilliance of captain Raza Iqbal (125 runs and 9 wickets at an economy of 3.35), the aggressiveness of Faizan Mumtaz (SR of 154), and the leg-breaks of Shahbaz Butt (8 wickets) sealed the deal for this Scandinavian country.
Norway will play its maiden T20I against Italy on 15 June 2019.
History of Cricket in Norway
History of cricket in this Scandinavian country dates back to 1866. However, despite earnest efforts to grow the sport, it all but disappeared by the turn of the 20th century. The game experienced a rebirth in the 1970s with the influx of the Asian immigrants, who started playing cricket in and around Oslo. Soon, the first Norwegian cricket club was established in ‘74.
Cricket grew at a gentle notch through the 1980s before picking up significant pace in the nineties with the formation of the Norwegian Cricket Federation. In 2000, Norway became an ICC Affiliate Member, and 17 years later was promoted to Associate status. The year 2007 is considered a landmark in Norway’s humble cricket history when the sport was accorded membership into the Umbrella organisation of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF).
Cricket in Norway Today
Norway despite being one of cricket's most northern outposts is growing in stature. There are as many as 67 cricket clubs with more than 5000 active members. The game has quickly gained the reputation of being Norway’s most diverse sport with ever-increasing participation by women. Organised cricket is divided into six men divisions and one women division.
Over the years, the men’s national team has performed admirably in competitions in Europe and across the world. Therefore, the team has consistently stayed among the Top 10 ranked ICC European Members. In 2006, Norway triumphed the ECC Division II Championships and eight years later won the ICC Europe Division II. After relying on expatriate-skills for many decades, the land of the midnight sun is finally reaping the rewards of investing at the grassroots level.
On the other hand, women’s national team was first assembled in 2014, and the next year Norway hosted its first national home game. The following years saw the women’s team visiting several European countries to compete against their counterparts. A fundamental factor in the rise of women’s cricket is the availability of an elite cricket program at high school level enabling students to hone their raw talents.
In 2016, Norway took on board a full-time national team coach and head of sports with a vision to develop and execute an advanced youth development program. More recently, the focus has remained on constructing more cricket grounds and building a vibrant organisational culture to govern cricket across the country.
Guernsey overhauled every team except Norway in the Group C of 2018 ICC T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier to advance to the 2019 Europe Finals. The all-around show of Stokes brothers (Mathew scored 132 runs, and Anthony took 14 wickets), canny medium-pace of William Peatfield (11 wickets), and the willow-wielding of captain Josh Butler (116 runs backed by an impactful name) played a pivotal role in the progress of the team.
Guernsey will play its maiden T20I against arch-rivals Jersey on 15 June 2019.
History of Cricket in Guernsey
Since the late 19th century, cricket was a regular activity in Guernsey at Elizabeth College, where the Island hosted the likes of MCC annually. At the outbreak of World War I, cricket was thriving in the Crown dependency with nearly 40 games being played every season.
Teams that played were the Green Howards, Grange CC, Rangers, Guernsey Athletic, 4th North Staffordshires, Guernsey Royal Artillery, and obviously Elizabeth College. Moreover, there were occasional duals involving HMS Superb, the Star, Carrefour Ramblers, Castle Cornet XI, the Press, and Commercial Travellers.
However, five years of WWI caused Guernsey an unenviable loss, whereby several hundred of men either died or became prisoners of war. Of course, this impacted Guernsey, as it impacted England on a grander scale who lost back to back Ashes to Warwick Armstrong’s Aussies.
Eventually, things normalised, and the Guernsey Cricket Association was established in 1927. Later on, the development of inter-insular rivalry with Jersey further streamlined the game on this Channel Island.
Cricket in Guernsey Today
In 2005, Guernsey became an ICC Affiliate Member, which ended its member county status with the England & Wales Cricket Board. Three years later, Guernsey was promoted to the Associate Member status. To streamline its development process, the Channel Island joined Sussex Cricket League’s Division II in 2016 as the Guernsey Sarnians. The team plays a game against each league participant, and the players enjoy access to coaching sessions and advanced training facilities.
Today, there are more than 30 clubs in this Crown dependency with a few of them managing as many as four teams, playing in either organised friendlies or local cricket leagues, and occasionally against the visiting teams. The Guernsey Cricket Board (GCB) officiates all ‘things’ cricket on the Island. As of 2019, there are four grass-wicket and 10 artificial-wicket cricket grounds in Guernsey.
Junior Cricket Development is a top priority of GCB with underage cricket programs running from U-11 through to the U-19. All 5 secondary schools, as well as 15 junior schools, play the game in tournaments and school friendlies arranged by the Board.
Moreover, women’s cricket is flourishing in Guernsey with a range of training opportunities and a full playing program available throughout the year. Also, there’s an Inclusion Program aimed towards special needs groups, and an acclaimed Table Cricket Program functions in local care homes. All of these endeavours are tied together with a high-quality Coach Education Program.
When the entire cricketing world would be watching every moment of the Pakistan versus India game at Old Trafford, Manchester on 16th June 2019, some 360 miles away six European teams would be making silver linings of their own!