September 7, 2009

Estonia

Estonia hope to attract more local talent

Siddhartha Talya

Tony Munro

When no less an authority than Wisden Cricketer's Almanack says the game started in Estonia in a pub, then you're probably also entitled to believe the national captain's nocturnal activities had something to do with the high number of locals playing cricket.

Tim Heath, the captain, is alleged to have attracted dozens of native-born Estonians to cricket during visits to Tallinn's nightclubs, and perhaps he did, but that might be glossing over the Estonia Cricket Association's (ECA) comprehensive schools programme.

It is from this the ECA hopes to attract the next wave of players to eventually replace the seven Estonian-born players representing their country in the European Division Five tournament in Corfu this week. Among the locals are three 19-year-olds: top-order batsman Marko Vaik, opening bowler Kalle Vislapu and Gleb Bihanovs, a medium-pacer and lower-order batsman. The trio are usually joined by about 20 other players who were born in the Baltic state and play in the fledgling four-team national league each week. In all, there are 50 registered Estonian players. There'll be further development when a schools tournament will be held at the Tallinn Hippodrome, the main venue for cricket, on September 20.

Meanwhile, Estonia will leave behind the familiar Notts matting pitch in Tallinn for the turf wickets of Corfu where they hope success in unofficial tournaments carries over to the real thing. Last year, Estonia won the inaugural Euro Twenty20 tournament in Carmel, North Wales, defeating the Czech Republic twice, Russia and a Cricket Board of Wales XI.

The Division Five tournament also includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Sweden and Turkey.

Estonia Tim Heath (capt), Murali Obali, Vineeth Govind, Shiva Arunanchalam, Kristian Kogeman (Estonian), Mart Tamooja (Estonian), Gleb Bihanovs (Estonian), Marko Vaik (Estonian), Kalle Vislapu (Estonian), Andres Burget (Estonian) (wk), Andrus Kambre (Estonian), Richard Barnwell, Martin Dungay.

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Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Mike Tiffin on (September 10, 2009, 9:11 GMT)

Fair call Vikram, I meant to say Euro Div 5. Maybe one day they will get there! Its still a very new sport for Estonians, but with 7 born and bred Estonians in the team, I am proud of how they have done in their first official ICC tournament.

Our school program will bring through new players but it is going to take time.

Posted by Vikram Maingi on (September 9, 2009, 11:57 GMT)

Hey Mike, Estonia is far from playing in the ICC Division-5. It will be playing the European Division-5 in Greece.

Posted by Mike Tiffin on (September 8, 2009, 6:00 GMT)

Tony, it was actually a documentary on local television that caught the attention of native Estonians and attracted them to try out a new sport. I suspect that a foreigner approaching you in a nightclub, inviting you to play cricket may not be as successful.

I think their all-round performance yesterday against Turkey, shows the hard work that has gone into developing cricket in Estonia.

Good luck to Estonia in ICC Div 5 - Corfu 2009!!

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