The highly anticipated European Cricket Championship (ECC) got under way on Monday 13 September at the Cártama Oval as Group A battled it out in five absorbing matches. A new and fresh venture, the format is a double round robin for Weeks 1-3, with two teams from each of the three groups qualifying for Finals Week, which commences on 4 October. The winner of the inaugural ECC will be crowned on 8 October.
“For us, it’s just a dream come true and only the beginning,” Roger Feiner, CEO of the European Cricket League, told SUR in English.
“We’ve been working on the thing for, I guess, 12 months and it took us a while to get everything started, so we are extremely excited.”
Officially sanctioned by the International Cricket Council, the ECC has garnered media attention worldwide and is being streamed in over 100 countries, with Malaga tv and 101tv broadcasting it in Spain. It has also attracted local, political interest.
“We had the honour to receive the mayor of Cártama and the sports minister of the Junta de Andalucía,” said Roger, “and these guys are as excited and happy as we are.”
Entrance to the ECC is free and there is on-site catering, as well as an area for children to play with bat and ball. Above all, Roger sees the tournament as an ideal opportunity for people to relax and enjoy themselves.
“It’s a lovely place to have a beer in the evening and watch a good game of cricket,” he said.
Equally enthusiastic was Christian Muñoz Mills, captain of the Spanish national team, who said that representing his country on Day 1 was as an “amazing” experience. After losing their first match to Belgium, Spain bounced back with a thrilling win over Norway thanks to spectacular batting performances by Hamza Saleem and Awais Ahmed.
“We needed that after the first game,” Muñoz told SUR in English. “With the ball we didn’t perform as we thought we would. We didn’t bowl the areas we wanted to bowl. But then with the bat – the boys were just amazing.”
In total, each group will feature 24 matches. The Netherlands and the England XI – two of the tournament favourites – will play their first games on 20 and 27 September, respectively.