|European Division 5: Corfu, Greece, September 2009 2010|
This Monday sees the start of the inaugural European Division 5 Championship in Corfu, the first ICC Europe tournament to be held in Hellas since the ECC Trophy in 1997.
With matches scheduled for both the Marina and Ropa Valley grounds on the island, the championship also represents a number of firsts. Indeed, for Bulgaria, Estonia, and Turkey, this will be their first outing at an ICC European tournament after they each gained Affiliate membership status in 2008.
Aside from becoming the first title-holders of the Division 5 Championship, the winners will also be automatically promoted to ICC European Division 4 Championship in 2011. But who might those winners be?
For a start, host nations Hellas will be looking to transfer their impressive record in European Indoor Cricket – finishing no worse than second between 2004 and 2006 – to the outside game. Cricket in Greece has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1823, and the team will doubtless do that proud in the coming week.
Estonia, meanwhile, have established themselves as kingpins of the Twenty20 format – winning an unofficial tournament last year – and have enjoyed an impressive run of form of late, winning 28 of 30 tour matches in 2008. Cricket in Bulgaria was institutionalized only in 2002, but is making great strides and the national team is proudly composed of largely home-grown players.
Of the remaining teams, Sweden probably has the best experience of cricket, with the Swedish Cricket Federation having been established in 1990, while the Czech Republic operates a sponsored and ICC-sanctioned league competition. Last, but by no means least, is Turkey and with an average age of 37 their squad is one of the more experienced in the tournament.