Journalist and broadcaster Mark Lovell examines the tremendous accomplishments of the European Cricket Network in a challenging year.

Turning a crisis into an opportunity: The incredible success story of the European Cricket Network

When COVID-19 hit the European continent in March, it seemed like 2020 would be a lost year for European Cricket League (ECL) founder Daniel Weston, CEO Roger Feiner and their ambitious team.

Hailed as the “Champions League of European cricket” a year previously, the inaugural ECL - ECL19 - was launched at La Manga Club in Spain to much acclaim, proving an instant success.

On the back of this successful event with eight national champions from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Romania and Russia, applications poured in from numerous National Federations, who all wanted to provide an international platform to their champion clubs.

Bold expansion plans were soon drawn up for the next-staging of the competition in May/June 2020, doubling the number of teams to 16, including interesting new additions from traditional cricketing powerhouses such as England, Ireland and Scotland.

Of course, it was a massive blow when in March, inevitably like all other major sporting events at that time, ECL20 had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ECL founder Weston and his progressive team remained positive and actively sought cricketing opportunities across the continent.

As it turned out, many European Federations were actively pursuing and able to make a return to action, while valued ECL strategic partners were also keen on live content to feed a “hungry” cricket fanbase. Therefore, as soon as it was safe to do so, the team decided to organize weekly T10 events all across Europe, developing these into an exciting new product: The European Cricket Series (“ECS”).

Working closely with almost 30 National Cricket Federations and the various local organising committees, European Cricket achievements between June 1 and September 17 have been truly remarkable.

As a sign of the growing potential, the European Cricket Series Bulgaria Final was recently live broadcast on Bulgarian state TV to a substantial audience. The ECS roadshow is currently in the Netherlands for the European Cricket Series Capelle, next stop is Cartaxo in Portugal followed by Prague, Barcelona and Rome on the horizon for big city events. Every game will be live streamed worldwide on the European Cricket Network and on FanCode - a multi-sport aggregator platform, from the house of Dream Sports for the Indian Sub-Continent.

Accomplishing these results has been a monumental task on so many levels. Planning, organizing and implementing broadcast production has proved an exciting challenge for CEO Roger Feiner in particular. With COVID-19 regulations evolving on a daily basis, events were regularly re-scheduled and the team’s flexibility was often stretched to the limits.

The results, however, are very impressive and the crisis has created an entirely new product for cricket in continental Europe. The European Cricket Series has again highlighted the outstanding potential for club cricket in Europe and confirmed that – when well-produced and presented - there is very substantial demand for this property, perceived by many as a niche product.

When Europe leaves COVID-19 behind – hopefully very soon – ECL and ECS will both continue to prosper in future years and will signal the emergence of European cricket to a global audience.

In this way, an undesirable pandemic can also leave behind a positive legacy.