Slovenia August 28, 2008

Mezica United

By Brad Eve

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.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo