Hectic times for Chile
Welcome to the latest edition of 'Beyond the Test World', our look at the game's new frontiers. Click here to check out Cricinfo's new Beyond The Test World blog, updated daily
Only a few weeks remain before Chile depart for their first appearance in an ICC tournament and so far it has been a busy season for the South American Affiliates.
October saw the start of the Fifth Metropolitan Cup - Chile's premier domestic tournament - and some of the country's most competitive cricket to date. The introduction of the winning draw/losing draw rule brought some hard fought games and nail-biting finishes, while in the National Second Division Providencia recovered from a shaky start to the season by defeating Viña del Mar in an exciting final.
Both competitions have experienced excellent turnouts, with some forty Chilean born players taking part in the first half of the season.
High Performance coach Arjun Menon has been putting the senior national team through their paces with weekly training sessions and so far the results have been encouraging. In a three match series, Chile leads a strong ACC XI by two games to nil, with the final game set to take place before the team head off for Paramaribo for the WCQS Division Three tournament.
For Chile's youngsters it has also been a hectic few months, with over fifty games of school cricket having been played. Over two hundred children took part in the Third Grange Cricket Festival and in October The Grange hosted Argentine school St. Alban's College, whose seventh grade teams played fixtures against three other local schools.
Local coaching programs have been experiencing unprecedented success, with over sixty qualified coaches now based in the country's clubs and schools. The ACC's aim of having over 100 Introductory Level coaches looks set to be achieved by February as several Municipal programs get underway.
Summer cricket camps have been organised in Chile for the first time, and over 150 children have so far taken part in the various programs being run in Santiago and Viña del Mar.
2006 hardly got off to the best of starts for the ACC, however, as opportunist thieves stole over $1,000 worth of equipment from the Association Secretary's car. The loss could have long-lasting effects for cricket in the country and it is hoped that the funds can be raised to replace the kit before the Metropolitan Cup restarts in late February.
Nevertheless, 2006 looks set to be another monumental year for Chilean cricket, with all eyes set firmly on Surinam. Victory in the tournament could raise the profile of the game, not only in Chile, but also throughout the wider cricketing community.
Tony Munro is Cricinfo's Beyond the Test World correspondent