ICC European Division 1 Championship March 8, 2008

Irish venues announced for European Championship

Cricinfo staff

ICC Europe has announced the schedule and venues for the ICC European Division 1 Championship to be held in Ireland from July 25 to 31, 2008.

The 50-over round-robin tournament will see Europe's top six Associate and Affiliate countries - Denmark, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Scotland - fight it out for Europe's top spot. Six cricket grounds will be used to host a total of 15 matches that will see each country come face to face over five days.

Current European champions Ireland will be looking to retain their title on home soil, and their campaign will begin against tournament newcomer Norway at The Hills Cricket Club on July 25. ICC Affiliate Member Norway gained promotion to Division 1 after finishing top of Division 2 in 2006, overcoming second place Jersey, and other Associate members including France, Gibraltar and Israel. The other opening matches will see Denmark face Scotland at Malahide CC and Italy take on the Netherlands at North County CC.

"Winning the European Championships and retaining the title is still a hugely important goal for Ireland," said Cricket Ireland's chief executive, Warren Deutrom. "Although last year's World Cup success gave us an exciting glimpse of the world beyond, we still consciously compare ourselves to our European neighbours, particularly our counterparts in ICC's High Performance Programme. If nothing else, the fierce competition among traditional rivals makes for highly competitive cricket which, in turn, helps raise the bar for European cricket."