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Italy captain Alessandro Bonora believes Michael Di Venuto can transom his amateur Italian side and help them make an impression in the World T20 qualifier, which begins on March 13 in the UAE. The squad will come together for an extended camp in Dubai ahead of their first game against Oman.
Di Venuto, 38, played nine ODIs for Australia and Bonora is looking to his international experience to help guide Italy, the fourth-lowest ranked side in the tournament.
"We are hugely excited about Michael joining up with the team," Bonora said. "The Di Venuto's have had a long standing relationship with Italian cricket, with Michael's brother Peter having played for Italy in the recent past. Just the opportunity to see how a true professional goes about his job will have an immeasurable influence on the guys.
"The squad is very similar to the one we have had over past tournaments. The coaching structure is unchanged too, so the guys know what to expect and what is expected of them. The difficulty, as with many of these tournaments, will be for the guys coming out of the northern hemisphere winter to have their skills and games honed by the time we start."
Di Venuto also brings a wealth of first-class experience. He spent 17 years playing for Tasmania before becoming a British-qualified player for Durham, after a stint as overseas player for Derbyshire. He is one of a number of new faces in the Italian squad that Bonora is excited about.
"Middlesex allrounder Gareth Berg will also be joining us and offers some exciting variation with his right-arm swing bowling and strong batting," Bonora said. "He's featured strongly in the Middlesex T20 team over the last few seasons and will also bring great experience and lessons for us from the county circuit.
"The other exciting addition is the off-spinning allrounder Carl Sandri who has been working towards joining up with Italian cricket for a number of years now and it's great for us that he will be on this tour. Carl has been playing grade cricket in Melbourne for many years and will certainly bolster our ranks tremendously."
A place in the final of the qualifying tournament and a berth at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka is likely to prove beyond Italy, but Bonora believes his side demonstrates what is great about amateur cricket.
"We have limited resources and spend a limited time together as a squad, but when we get together for these tournaments we play with passion and a strong desire to do well for one another," Bonora said. "We play with discipline and structure and always look to implement the key skills of the game. If you give us a sniff of a win, we love nothing better than a team song to celebrate victory."
Italy have been drawn in group B, with Ireland, Scotland, Uganda, Oman, USA, Kenya and Namibia.