After 4 incredible weeks of international t10 cricket, 21 participating countries have become the final 5. Prior to the European Cricket Championship getting underway, we knew that the England XI would return in Championship week to defend their title that they won somewhat convincingly last time around.
The England XI were an unknown quantity this time last year but they came out all guns blazing and were able to showcase their skills and talent to be the first winners of the ECC at its inaugural tournament. The National Counties Cricket Association (NCCA) have taken the approach of “if it ain't broke, dont fix it” with over half of the 2021 squad returning for the 2022 edition, many of the original players are coming into the tournament with an excellent season at first class level. The England XI will be coming to Championship week with one thing in mind… making it back to back ECC victories for the English.
Dan Lincoln will lead the squad once again. Lincoln, who will also take the gloves, is in what some would call the form of his life with bat in hand and as a captain. Leading Berkshire CCC to a double winning season, he will be looking to add to his 594 runs at a strike rate of 225 with 54 sixes back in 2021.
Tom Bevan, 23, has had a somewhat breakthrough season with Glamorgan scoring his maiden list A century against Hampshire back in August and scored 48 against Derbyshire on his first class debut less than a month ago. Bevan was awarded the young player of the year at Glamorgan CCC this season and he will be looking to do some damage at the top of the order and build on his 266 runs made last year.
Being led by ECN’s very own Corey Rutgers, the host nation had a mixed week in week A of the ECC22. Starting off strong with 5 wins from their first 5 games - one of these victories coming against the Irish XI in match 7, the host nation seemed to have been living up to the world's expectations of Spain being many viewers’ favorites for the ECC22. Their fifth and sixth games however certainly threw a spanner into the works as they took three losses on the bounce against Portugal, Austria and a strong Ireland XI. Spain were able to pull themselves together and get themselves into the final against the Ireland XI and through to Championship Week, albeit they did it the hard way.
Having announced their squad for finals week, many eagle eyed viewers will notice some familiar names coming into the squad. The likes of Charlie Rumistrzewicz and Lorne Burns bring more spin options for Spain whilst Yasir Ali comes into the squad to bolster the batting lineup for the Spanish.
Daniel Doyle Calle floated in all different positions in the batting lineup throughout the week. Finishing with 252 runs to his name with a strike rate of 223 and 39 boundaries, many Spanish fans will be hoping to DDC at the top of the order to try and prevent a run shortage for the Spanish.
The Netherlands XI is no stranger to the t10 format of the game with ECS tournaments having been held in the Netherlands. This was evident in week B as they went unbeaten in all 8 of their round robin fixtures, winning the first qualifier and then going on to defeat a strong Demark team by 15 runs. Taking 10 wins from 10 games is not an easy task, however the Dutch made it seem so, and with some big names in their squad, there is no reason as to why they couldn't become the winners of ECC22.
Aryan Dutt was a name that was unfortunate to miss out on the Dutch World Cup squad later this year. Having picked up wickets this year that many could only dream of - Babar Azam standing out - Dutt will be hoping to pick up some more scalps to add to his collection of wickets already in the 2022 edition of the ECC.
Musa Ahmad was the top run scorer for the Dutch in week B with 179 runs to boast about, a high score of 62 gave him a solid average of 29.83. His power hitting abilities will be heavily relied on as the Dutch are a young but promising team and Ahmad is certainly one of the first names on the team sheet.
Making their debut in international t10 cricket, the Scots were very much an unfamiliar name in the short format of the game, and with a strong group, they weren’t the favorites from group C with last year's runners up Belgium being tipped to make it through to finals week. It took the Scotland XI a few games to get into their stride as they took 3 losses from the round robin stage which placed them second in the group. However, they were able to make things click and were able to steal that spot at Championship Week away from the Belgians and pulled themselves through with a 23 run victory in the final under lights.
Jack Jarvis was the star man with the bat and at just 19 years of age, the lights and cameras didn’t affect his game as he ended up top scoring for the Scotland XI with 214 runs, a highest score of 69 against a strong Belgian bowling attack left him with an average 24. The young Scot will be crucial if the Scotland XI want to dethrone their noisy neighbors down south.
Jack Hogarth’s tricky right arm leg spin could prove to be a vital component for the Scots as spin once again has proven to be so crucial in the t10 format of the game. Hogarth was able to pick up 13 wickets in week 3 off the ECC and was the only Scottish bowler to bowl a maiden all week. Hogarth will have his eyes on at least 20 total wickets for the tournament as he looks to spin the Scottish XI to victory.
As the highest ranked non-playing ODI nation in the tournament, it doesn’t really come as a surprise to see them get through to Championship Week. Having only lost one game in group D, the Italians will go into the final week of the European Cricket Championship 2022. Questions wll be asked of the fitness of the squad as they will be playing two weeks back to back and with a considerable rise in the level of opponents, Italy will have to dig deep to try and come out of the final week with a smile on their faces.
Rajmani Sandhu was the ever present batter for Italy throughout group D. Italy often found themselves with a handful of wickets lost inside the powerplay but it was often Sandhu who would play the anchor role and rebuild the innings. Finishing on 222 runs from 9 innings with an average of just under 28, his strike rate at 188 which is considered slow in this format but his role was to rebuild a lot of the time and if it wasn’t for Sandhu then Italy may not be in the position they are.
With the average run rate being considerably less in group D compared to the first 3 weeks, there is no doubt that the Itlaians bowling department are in top form. The likes of Jagmeet Singh and Crishan Kalugamage both taking 14 wickets each, is pure evidence of the bowling unit firing at all cylinders. They will need to carry this form into Championship Week for Italy to succeed.
Only 20 matches remain in this years ECC, 5 teams... one winner.