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Macedonia is set to take a giant leap forward in its cricket development this summer as it prepares to play host to an invitational European Twenty20 tournament.
National teams from Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Russia as well as a Croatia ‘A’ side will descend on the country’s capital Skopje to contest the third unofficial EuroTwenty20 event from July 10 – 17.
Cricket was first played in Macedonia in 2007 and the enthusiasm for the sport has reportedly increased greatly with the aim of working towards ICC Affiliate Member status over the next few years.
Ray Power, chairman of the British Business Group Macedonia, who is developing cricket in the country and helping to organise the tournament, is hopeful the event will help generate further interest in the game and increase participation.
He said: “We are really pleased to host the event and the long hot summers in Macedonia make it an ideal place for the sport; with an already very sociable population cricket fits into the culture and way of life very nicely.
“Of course, we have had a number of challenges to make this happen but with strong support locally we are confident this will be a great tournament and will create a lot of interest among the local population.
“It promises to be a great week of cricket and I am sure we will see some real talent emerge from the games.”
The tournament also represents progress for the recently-founded national associations of Serbia, and Romania, who will be taking part in an international competition for the first time while Hungary and Russia will hope participation will enhance their own ongoing Affiliate Member claims.
Also competing will be a team representing the Cricket Board of Wales who will include a number of players from Carmel & District Cricket Club where the tournament has been held for the past two years.
Timothy Abraham, who is the founder and principal organiser of the event at Carmel, revealed the decision to take the tournament to Macedonia was a natural step in the tournament’s ongoing commitment to helping cricket progress in Europe.
He said: “I believe we have helped the development of indigenous players from Europe by exposing them to authentic cricket conditions and turf pitches in the UK but of course there are other non-playing factors which can also help associations move forward.
“After two years of hosting the event in North Wales I felt the event needed to be held somewhere else to keep it fresh and interesting. There were a number of countries keen on hosting the event but I was lucky enough to play cricket in Skopje last year and was exceptionally impressed by the level of organisation and the enthusiasm for hosting the event so Macedonia was a logical choice.
“Hopefully the likes of Romania, Serbia and Macedonia – who are taking their first steps in international cricket – will be able to learn a lot about the game both on and off the pitch as well as boosting the profile of the sport in their respective countries.”
There are more details about the tournament on www.eurotwenty20.eu.
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.