Tuesday, 22 August 2023
A new wicket has been laid and the outfield is being tended at Cártama Oval as Malaga gets ready for the first ball of the European Cricket Championship 2023 (ECC) to be bowled.
It's the third time Malaga province will be hosting the most important cricket event in Europe after two successful years. A total of 31 teams will face-off in groups during the first three weeks, before the top-placed countries compete in championship week. The final will be played on 20 October.
Netherlands XI will be the team to beat this year after they were crowned the winners of last year's ECC following their victory over reigning champions England XI. European Cricket CEO, Roger Feiner, is in Malaga this week and said hype is building ahead of the championships which start on 25 September.
"It is wonderful to be back in Malaga for ECC 2023. When we started European Cricket the general goal was to open up cricket to Europe and being back here this year and seeing the difference from last year and how excited everyone is for the championships next month is fantastic to see," he told SUR in English.
Feiner praised Malaga's passion for sports and said its infrastructure, climate and diversity made the Andalusian city a strong candidate to host the ECC.
"Malaga Airport is one of the most unique in Europe - it's a hub to other European destinations and has frequent flights on a daily basis which is key for us," he said. "We have strong accommodation options in the area, the weather is good all-year-round, Andalucía as a region with its diversity of sports is welcoming us - we feel at home in Andalucía and this is key for us."
Feiner said more Europeans are picking up the bat thanks to events such as the ECC and praised Cricket España for its support in helping grow the sport in Spain.
"We have agreed to play all big events on the oval of dreams in Cártama until the end of 2024. That decision that allows a multi-year planning is mainly based on the solid and professional partnership agreement with Cricket España. They are a role model because you need sport managers that see the long-term benefit of staging events of our size in their country and creating awareness for supporters, partners and the youth," he said.
Feiner also praised local partners European Cricket work alongside during the month of the ECC such as its partner hotel in Benalmádena, Sunset Beach Club and Juan Mateos, owner of Mateos coaches, which provides transportation.
"The relationship with rental car company CarGest makes our individual transportation much easier, thanks to the cooperation with its director, Eugenio Lopez. Cervezas Victoria , the beer from Malaga, partners with us as well and helps create a wonderful fan village, that allows a fantastic stay at the ECC venue," he added.
"The experience on the ground in Cártama is a dream. The team of Spain has many talented players and has proven that they can make it to the top. A finals week with Spain, England and Holland is pretty realistic. We invite people from the whole coast to join the cricket party weeks. The entrance is free and on the final day, there is even live music between the games."
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