Cricket catching on in Prague

There are leagues for all ages, and tournaments for accomplished players

The Czech Republic’s cricket scene has come on leaps and bounds since the first cricket match was played in 1997. As more expats and locals pick up the bat, there is an increase in competition and that added competitive edge is seeing an increase in quality.

Currently, the indoor winter league is under way. It features nine teams battling for the 2017 ČMKS Winter League championship. After all the fixtures have been played, the top two will face off in a title match while third play fourth, fifth play sixth and seventh play eighth.

Czech-Moravian Cricket Association (ČMKS) league administrator Terry O’Connor is expecting an already tight league to remain that way. “The league table is starting to take shape, I would expect the current top three to be up there come the end of the season, but in which order, it is too soon to tell,” he said.

“We had some real nail biters in the opening round, and while there have been a few blow outs since, there should be a lot more really tight games over the next few weeks. Sunday, Feb. 12, really should provide four very close games and the final match that day, Barbarians Vandals v PCC Kings, could decide a place in the final,” he said.

The growth of the Czech leagues has seen the national team take strides in the right direction too. Last year, the national side won their first tournament, which was followed by their second tournament win, shortly after.

This year plans are in place for four more tournaments. A marquee friendly against the Austrian national team will be one to put in the calendar. The fact a national team as prestigious as the Austrian sought to play the Czech side shows huge strides have been made both the quality and structure of Czech cricket.

Meanwhile, steps are being taken to try to ensure the future of Czech cricket. Self-proclaimed “cricket evangelist” Chris Pearce spends much of his free time looking to continue the domestic growth of cricket. “In 2015 I started the nonprofit company Kriketová Akademie ČR,” he said.

“The focus of the company is to bring sport and physical activity to the Czech Republic and to aid social integration through cricket. A byproduct of these efforts we hope will be expansion of the sport in the Czech Republic, so that when cricket eventually becomes an Olympic sport we will be ready to compete,” he added.

“I lead a small team that is promoting the sport heavily in schools through 'taster' days and the introduction of after school clubs. The reception we’re getting is unanimously positive, with kids screaming and shouting, cheering on their classmates in a sport they’ve just learned to play in the last 45 minutes. It’s amazing to see and hear,” he said.

A cricket shop (www.ikriket.cz) has since been set up too, and is likely the first of its kind in Central Europe. Those looking to get involved now have somewhere to buy bats and pads. Furthermore, tournaments are being arranged for this year where kids at both Czech and international schools can pit their wits against each other.

When the indoor league comes to an end in mid-March, a short break will ensue before the 40-over league commences in late April. This gives plenty of time for people to get involved and play some cricket. If 40-over cricket isn’t for you then that league is followed by the T20 league which kicks-off in August.

For more details on how to join one of the local clubs please visit www.czechcricket.cz or check out their Twitter page

Regular updates on results, tables and fixtures can be found on the Facebook page here.

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