Luxembourg: Cricket blossoms in Grand Duchy, but big challenges lie ahead
The amount and variety of cricket being played in Luxembourg has increased considerably over the last five years, as expatriates from cricket playing countries have become more involved. There have been regular semi-official international matches, participation in the Belgian league, the blossoming of the Luxembourg league as well as a host of friendly games against local and touring sides.
However, the big challenge remains to interest the local population and to encourage their youth to try their hand at a game that is almost totally unknown to them.
Luxembourg beat Switzerland by a convincing margin in an early season game, and one of the most exciting games ever seen in the Grand Duchy was the one wicket defeat by France in June.
The majority of the season was focused on the Optimists CC's participation in the Belgian league first division, a championship that the club had won on three occasions in the early 1990s.
This year, a succession of batting failures resulted in an exciting relegation tussle at home against Mechelen CC, who were unable to chase the modest total set by the OCC. There is no promotion or relegation for the 2nd XI, but they have enjoyed several close matches against the likes of Brussels and Antwerp 2nds.
The most recent innovation has been the creation of the Luxembourg Cricket Federation League, which has seen much keenly fought cricket over the last two years since it was created. It has given more people the chance to play and in particular junior cricketers who otherwise would not experience league cricket at first hand.
This year the title was taken by the Communities CC who consist mainly of EU civil servants, with the runners up being the Luxembourg Rugby Club, the OCC, the Maidens CC, the Black Stuff CC, and the Luxembourg Asians. The formation of the latter team has been a particularly welcome development, as this will help cricket in Luxembourg tap into the enthusiasm of the Grand Duchy's Asian community.
The MCC visited in August, and not only did this boost the moral of Luxembourg's cricketers, but it attracted local TV and press coverage.
Earlier in the month, the OCC ran out as the shield winners after a week of cricket at the Durham International Club festival.
Next year will be the 25th anniversary of cricket in Luxembourg. It will see the building of new nets at the ground with the help of the local council and nets will also appear for the first time at the European School thanks to the efforts of the Communities CC. Also, the programme of training for coaches will continue, assisted by the European Cricket Council. These developments will continue to strengthen the presence of cricket in Luxembourg's sporting life.