For the love of cricket — even in Europe

Europe

Imagine starting a sporting competition — and getting the world to watch it without having the game’s best players putting on the show.

West Australian Daniel Weston, who has represented Germany in international cricket, is the founder of the European Cricket League. Launched last week in southern Spain last week, the club competition became extraordinary viewing on Foxtel in Australia (along with millions across the world).

FoxSports defined the ECL as “getting very close to must-watch TV”. It was proof that the best “reality TV” is indeed sport. In the UK, where the focus was to have been on the build-up to traditional The Ashes series, the T-10 series featuring teams from eight European nations was dubbed “village cricket” on an unexpected stage. Suburban cricket, in an Australian context.

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Even Australian spin-bowling legend Shane Warne was captivated to the point he offered to be part of the second edition of the ECL. He tweeted: “Cricket is a beautiful game. Well done and congrats to everyone who made this happen. I would love to check this tournament out next year and help out, if you need a helping hand then hit me up! Congrats again.”

Immediately the cricket world was captivated by the ECL’s first “cult hero” as the images of Romanian bowler Pavel Florin went viral across digital and social media.

The scene of this new cricket “circus” is on a large green at the “La Manga Club”, a five-star sports and leisure resort across 560 hectares at Cartagena, southern Spain — just south of those well-known British holiday retreats at Benidorm and Alicante.

And the path to new “Lord’s” for European cricket begins in 2016 in Germany where Weston is working as a hedge fund manager. It also is the time when Europe, particularly southern European in Greece and Italy, is being overwhelmed with either refugees or immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other Asian nations seeking their way to prosperity in Germany.

They also want to keep their game of cricket.

“I started a Facebook page (of these cricket games) with live streams — and ended up with 52 million views and 1.3 million followers,” Weston said.

Such numbers took Weston out of high finance to fully concentrate on German Cricket TV — and play for Germany, as a right-arm fast bowler who made his international debut in 2017 against Ghana in an International Cricket Council event in South Africa.

A year later, a “chance meeting” with former FIFA broadcasting chief Roger Feiner had Weston before the marketing masters of the UEFA Champions League soccer competition. They too were impressed by the potential audience reach for an European “Champions League” in cricket — a theme accepted by the cricket leaders in Spain, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Romania, Russia and The Netherlands.

Dutch club VOC Rotterdam won the first ECL title with Australian-born master sweeper Scott Edwards (137 runs from 39 balls with 18 sixes) and Max O’Dowd (74 off 25) delivering a run rate of 22.2 per over for the unbeatable score of 222 against German club SG Findorff.

The Germans were 9/121 in their futile chase to deny Rotterdam the title of “Kings of Europe”.

The ECL — with Shane Warne’s interest captured — could move from T10 to T20 next year.

Can it last? Before the tournament began, Weston declared: “There has never been a European-wide league of this nature and it’s our desire to make the ECL the flagship competition in continental Europe. (But) the ECL will only be successful if five-year-olds (in Europe) play the game of cricket.”

Welcome to the sixth edition of the new Roast enewsletter.

This week, the big question of the moment is what defines the Port Adelaide AFL team. Is it mentally weak, as has become the thought of master broadcaster Bruce McAvaney?

And in Reality Bites, the questions of the moment are: Did Crows coach Don Pyke overcorrect the Adelaide playbook after the 2017 AFL grand final disaster? Will the frustrated and agitated Port Adelaide fans who are vacating their seats at Adelaide Oval take responsibility for the growing debt at Alberton, particularly if their protest or the sacking of coach Ken Hinkley adds an other $1 million of red ink to the books?

And is Crows key forward-ruckman Josh Jenkins being “punished” for associating with a Port Adelaide premiership great?

Welcome to The Roast on Tuesday.

The Roast will continue on Wednesday and Thursday each week on advertiser.com.au.

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