The Spanish national cricket team at the Cártama Oval this week. / Ñ. SALAS

A team that reflects the multicultural face of Spain

The Spanish national cricket team have been playing in the European Cricket Championship this week at the Cártama Oval

MARINA RIVAS MALAGA.

Cricket is a sport that hasn't caught on yet in Spain, despite the fact that the previous European Cricket Championship, also held last year in Cártama, pulled in some 40 million viewers across the globe, with around four million viewers in Europe alone.

But cricket is on the up in Spain, and it's clearly reflected in the growing number of clubs that are being formed. Moreover, the 115 clubs spread across ten regions means that the sport can establish its own federation and help its make it professional. While other countries consider their cricket players as stars, in Spain it is still largely seen as a hobby.

The Spanish national team, on the surface, does not look like your typical side. Of the 13 squad members, only one of them has a Spanish surname. Captain Christian Muñoz-Mills, a 31-year-old physiotherapist from Alicante and with an English mother, discovered cricket thanks to his grandfather. "Doing this for a living is difficult, we play for clubs as amateurs and with the national team we do get something, they cover our costs. Though we're getting more sponsors, it's growing a lot," he said. "For me it's an honour, and for my teammates too, many of them were born here and others feel Spanish because they've been here a long time."

Another veteran on the team is Briton Tom Vine, who came to Murcia with his parents when he was eleven and now, at 29, he keeps dreaming of doing well with the national team that he's been playing for since the lower age groups. "One of the things that I like the most is how well we get on, we make plans together, we make friends from many countries, other national teams... I'd like to come and watch them next week, although I'd need to take time off work," he said.

The Spanish national team also has a bright future, namely 19-year-old IT student Atif Mohammad, who was born in Pakistan but came to Spain as an eight-year-old. "I started playing cricket over there on the street, with a tennis ball. If you play cricket in Pakistan you're respected and people know you... It's not like that here, but we're lucky that it's growing a lot. My dream is to become a professional and to go with Spain to the World Cup," he admits.