The tenth ICC European Indoor Championship take place this weekend in Kuortane, Finland. This will be the first tournament to take place in Finland and Kuortane will become the most northerly venue ever to be used for an official international cricket championship.
Originally held every year, the European Indoor Championship has now become a biennial event. The 2006 tournament was held at Lord's and was won by Denmark, who were victors in three of the last four championships. The only other winner in that period was Hellas (Greece), who defeated Denmark by 3 runs in the 2005 final in Herning, Denmark.
Seven nations - Finland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Hellas (Greece) and Portugal - will compete for the 2008 title in the three-day tournament.
As strong as Denmark are, Hellas also have a proud record in these Championships with two victories and three losing-final appearances. However, they will be bringing a completely different squad from that which competed in 2006 with Georgios Stogiannos, their captain two years ago, a notable absentee.
Portugal is another country with a proud European indoor record, having won three of the first four titles. Paulo Buccimazza will be captaining a squad which is unchanged from that of 2006 and they are undoubtedly the most experienced of the competing nations.
France are again led by Arun Ayyavooraju who is the sole survivor of the 2006 squad and will be hoping to improve on their fourth place in 2006. Meanwhile Belgium bring a very young squad, led by Jamie Farmiloe. However, they performed with great credit in 2006 to finish fifth in the round-robin stage and that experience may spur them to an even-higher placing this time.
Finland, the hosts, lost all their round-robin matches in 2006 but then rallied in the play-off stages and almost grabbed fifth place ahead of the Belgians. With home advantage they will expect to finish even higher in Kuortane.