Thursday, 31 July 2014

Czech cricket: onwards and upwards!

Prague TV |
20 May 2014

How far has cricket progressed in Prague over the last 12 months?

It’s been over a year since Prague.TV last met with the guys behind the Czech Cricket association (CMKS) so it’s the ideal time, with summer approaching and the football season winding down, to see how far cricket has progressed in Prague over the last 12 months.

Prague’s cricket scene has gone from strength to strength as more expats and Czechs are picking up the cricket bat in their spare time. As Dan Casey, who was recently appointed the Czech National team manager, mentioned in our feature last year – there are four teams based in Prague that compete in the 40-over league and a T20 version as well.

“Prague's four major clubs are all developing all of the time, with greater opportunities to play higher quality and more meaningful matches – it gives extra motivation for peripheral members of the team.” said Dan “We have also organized extra friendly games featuring an Over Forties team, an Ashes game with England and Australia XI’s, an India vs Rest of World match and a Czech XI, it’s a great way of giving the guys additional opportunities to play and to develop their game.”

It’s clear just by browsing the official Czech cricket website that improvements have been made at grass roots level as well as the facilities that the clubs enjoy. The much-needed ICC grant money has been invested in an artificial carpet wicket at the Kriket Vinoř – but the dream is having a grass pitch that can be used by everyone.

“It would be great to use a turf pitch but this would require a full time groundsman, but the owner of the facility at Vinoř is in the process of fitting the second carpet, which should be ready by July this year and will allow us to play two matches at a time, on the best wickets we've ever had!” added Dan.

“It has the most consistent bounce we've ever played on here, with scores of 262 and 321 in the first few league games. The ground develops week by week - the owner of the field puts huge amounts of free time into the project, and there are plans for a second field, training nets and a pavilion (of sorts) over the next 12 months. Our pavilion at the end of last summer was provided by one of our player's double-decker red bus, which was a great place for shade from the sun or shelter from the wind/rain! The bus has now been refitted and is available for hire, but it should still be a regular guest at the ground!” said Dan.

While things are ticking along nicely with the new artificial wicket, the practice nets at Olšanské Náměstí need some work. The area itself is very limited in terms of space, especially when a dozen or so eager cricketers are queuing up to smack a few balls.

“Our training net in central Prague is fine, but we would love to find a new area, preferably one where we can have two nets side-by-side as there isn't enough space at our current facility.” reflected Dan.

From an International perspective it’s difficult for the smaller nations dotted around Europe to compete in official ICC competition. Funding is always an issue at this level of cricket but it hasn’t limited the opportunities that have presented themselves to the Czech national side (The Lions) to improve their game and travel all over Europe in the process.

This year the Lions will visit Austria for a T20 game in Vienna on July 6 and will round of the summer road trip in Dresden for a tough test against their first XI. When returning to the Czech Republic the Lions will play host to Luxemberg and Switzerland in what promises to be a unique occasion.

Meanwhile, the younger and less experienced cricketers get a chance to flex their muscles with the Czech Eagles. “The Eagles are our development team, we use them as a chance to provide experience for our young Czech players, and this year the team is going for a long weekend to Romania at the end of June, which should be a great trip for all involved.” said Dan.

The domestic 40-over season began in earnest at the end of April but there is plenty of time to get involved and start playing cricket. For more details on how to join one of the local clubs and then please visit www.czechcricket.cz or check out their facebook page here.