August 28, 2008

Slovenia

Mezica United

Nishi Narayanan

By Brad Eve

Mezica Cricket Club is from the mountain town of Mezica na koroskem, which is known for its skiing, mountain biking and lead/zinc mines. It is also known for being the spiritual home of cricket in Slovenia as it where the very first cricket was known to have been played in this country by a group of enthusiastic youngsters from 1974 to about 1982 after one of the local lads was introduced to the sport on a school exchange trip to Birchington, Kent.

The Mezica players were reunited a few years ago and are once again playing cricket with many of the original enthusiasts still competing. They have recently constructed a practice net and have won the first two Slovenian National Championships both held in Ljubljana. They must also be strong favourites to win the first official Slovenian Cricket League which begins next year.

On top of all of this they have recently held for the second year running a tournament in Mezica itself. This years' participants were Mezica itself, Maribor and Bela Krajina Cricket Club (also from Slovenia), Comenius CC Szekesfehervar (from Hungary), Slovak CC (Hajske Slovensko) representing Slovakia and CC Velden 91 from Austria. Also invited were Vis CC (from Croatia) and Brno CC (Czech Republic) who were unable to attend.

The tournament took place over three days from Friday 22nd to Sunday the 24th August and despite a couple of hours of torrential rain with the odd drop of hail(which didn't interrupt a single ball of cricket - they are tough up there in the mountains) was played in glorious conditions.

Eventual winners of the tournament were CC Velden 91 who retained their title from the previous year (and had by all accounts brought a fairly strong team) defeating the passionately enthusiastic Slovaks (most of whom are converted ice-hockey players). The hosts Mezica edged out Bela Krajina for third place. Maribor and Comenius tied for fifth place and are both planning for next year.

Highlights of the weekend included some spectacular big hitting from Slovene national team player Robi Jakofcic (Bela Krajina CC) who hit the 17 required to win (including a 7!) off the last over in just five balls. Recent convert from alpine skiing Primoz Pustoslemsek batted and bowled superbly for the home team Mezica and Jasa Zidar took his first big haul of wickets for Bela Krajina.

The general standard appeared to have improved overall and the future of cricket played in this corner of the world is looking rosier than ever.

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Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Ranjan on (August 29, 2008, 11:13 GMT)

It is refreshing to know criket is being popular in slavic countries. 20 years back when we played cricket in USSR as students, they were puzzled as to what we were doing. So, it is a great news. Hopefully, we will see slavic players from original lands rather than slavic players like Len Pasco and Kasperovicz from adopted lands

Posted by chris on (August 28, 2008, 10:43 GMT)

My team (London Fields, from Hackney) played in Slovenia last year, and return in a few weeks time. It's a beautiful place to play cricket and it was great to see ex-pats promoting cricket to the local population with enthusiasm

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nishi Narayanan
Staff writer Nishi studied journalism because she didn't want to study at all. As she spent most of the time at j-school stationed in front of the TV watching cricket her placement officer had no choice but to send out a desperate plea to the editor of ESPNcricinfo to hire her. Though some of the senior staff was suspicious at that a diploma in journalism was the worst thing that could happen to ESPNcricinfo and she did nothing to allay them, she continues to log in everyday and do her two bits for cricket.

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