Prague International Twenty20 Cricket Cup 2008
The development of cricket in eastern Europe takes another step forward this weekend when unofficial national teams from six countries compete for the Prague International Twenty20 Cricket Cup 2008.
ICC Affiliates Bulgaria (in their first tournament since gaining ICC membership last month) and the hosts, the Czech Republic, will be joined by teams from Belarus, Russia, Hungary and Romania in the two-day event, starting tomorrow.
Enthusiasts in Belarus and Russia have been thwarted in their desire for form national bodies and join the ICC by the bureaucracy and cost involved in forming official sporting bodies in countries of the former Soviet Union.
Similarly, the tournament organiser and Czech Cricket Union official, Timothy Hort, told CricInfo that it was imperative that the tournaments like these in future saw some benefit from the ICC's new financial position.
"Some countries, many due to their prospective status, have showed apprehension with committing to the tournament as they would not have financial assistance for travel and accommodation," he said. "This is set to change in 2009 with the new format of ICC funding.
"Also, the need to find sponsors for this tournament is greatly required to allow these kind of tournaments to flourish and improve facilities and cricket in the Czech Republic, and Eastern Europe."
Teams from Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Croatia also played the the recent Euro Twenty20 in Carmel, North Wales, meaning the Slovenia, Ukraine and Latvia, are the only eastern European countries where cricket has a permanent presence not to field 'representative' teams this summer.
A club team from Slovenia, Ljubljana CC, though, does play regular matches in the Austrian Open League.
The draw: Group A: Belarus, Romania, Russia Group B: Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary
Saturday 9am-12pm - Czech Republic v Bulgaria, Romania v Russia; 12.15pm-3.15pm - Bulgaria v Hungary, Belarus v Russia; 3.30pm - 6.30pm - Hungary v Czech Republic, Belarus v Romania.
Sunday Semi-Finals - 9am - 12pm - 3rd v 4th; 5th v 6th - 12.15pm - 3.15pm Final - 3.30pm - 6.30pm
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo