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Action last year at the Cártama Oval in the Guadalhorce valley, less than half an hour from Malaga. ECN
Cártama Oval hosts 'Champions League' of cricket for third year running
Cricket

Cártama Oval hosts 'Champions League' of cricket for third year running

The European Cricket Network has recently signed an agreement to host three major cricket events in Cártama every year until 2028

Tony Bryant

Cártama

Monday, 26 February 2024, 09:38

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The prestigious European Cricket League (ECL) Championship is set to return to the Malaga town of Cártama for the third year from 26 February to 22 March. The international T10 Tournament, the 'Champions League' of cricket, will take place at the Cártama Oval cricket ground, where 35 elite European clubs will compete for the coveted trophy. Among the clubs participating are defending champions Dreux CC from France, 2022 winners Pak I Care Badalona (Spain) and 2019 champions V.O.C. Rotterdam (Netherlands).

The ECL is played by European countries' domestic league club champions, which are brought together in a Champions League format, providing the highest level of competition for European club cricket.

The Championships consists of the initial group matches being played in the first three weeks, before finishing off with the championship week from 18 to 22 March.

There will be a total of five 90-minute matches (restricted to a maximum of ten overs per side) played every day, between 11.30am and 9pm. The teams are divided into seven groups, with the winners of each group competing in the finals to determine Europe's champion of champions.

The championship, which will be officially opened by the town's mayor, Jorge Gallardo, is organised by the European Cricket Network, the digital home of cricket in Europe. Founded in 2019, the ECN is focused on growing the sport by developing top events, while using cutting edge technology to create entertainment, promotion and digital fan engagement of cricket being played all over Europe, then taking it to a global audience via ECN media partners. European cricket has attracted huge numbers in the last few years, in terms of the quantity of teams, viewers and consumers of the sport. There are currently 30 contracted national federations within European cricket, and between them they offer over 300 days of live cricket action to over 20 million European fans of the sport, with over one billion worldwide.

Last year's ECL garnered a staggering viewership of around 35 million globally, underscoring its status as a pivotal event in the cricketing calendar and showcasing Cártama on the world stage.

For Cricket España, Spain's national cricket governing body, whose president is Juan Carlos Rodriguez, this marks the fourth consecutive year hosting the European Championship; the inaugural edition was held in Murcia before the event moved to Cártama.

The president of the Costa del Sol Cricket Club, Jay Wild, told SUR in English that cricket is becoming increasingly popular with the locals.

"Once the Spanish understand the basics of the game, they are very quick on the uptake. Of course, the locals like it because they can enjoy a bottle of Victoria beer while watching the matches unfold on the pitch, and they love the atmosphere."

The president believes that the Cártama Oval has the potential of becoming the future home of European cricket, and this year the ground has expanded its potential. It has proved to be the perfect venue, due to the climate and the accessibility of the location, given that it is just 23km from Malaga, which can be easily reached from almost anywhere in Europe.

"The ownership of the cricket ground has changed hands since last year. It is now a multipurpose sports complex with Pro Football Camps, as well as cricket. We have recently signed a new agreement to host three major cricket events each year until 2028. These are the Champions League in February and March, the Euro Championship in September and October, and then the women's event in December, which we will extend from one week to two weeks this year. This will be extended to three weeks next year," the president explained.

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