The Czech cricket season arrived last week but unfortunately, for Prague Cricket Club, who wanted to hit the practice nets, so did the rain.
Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining and it gave me an opportunity to sit down with Dan Casey (Prague CC) and Scott Page (Bohemians CC) to discuss the emergence of cricket in the Czech Republic.
Cricket in the nation’s capital has come a long way since 1997 when a group of expats working for the British Embassy arranged a friendly game between a few friends and whoever they could cobble together.
Fifteen years on and Czech cricket now boasts five affiliated teams with over 100 regular members and an ICC funded cricket pitch. Not bad from such humble beginnings.
Prague Cricket Club, Vinohrady, Bohemians, Barbarians and Dresden will contest the Pro 40-over league that, as Dan immediately points out, has been won by Prague Cricket Club for five consecutive years “I maybe biased but of course PCC is the best and most successful club in the country!” he said with a wry smile.
Dan Casey has been a member of the Prague Cricket Club since April 2008 and is also the Českomoravský Kriketový Svaz (ČMKS) secretary.
“I looked up PCC a few weeks after arriving in Prague and met the club on the pre-season party, it was really great fun and kept me coming back,” he said “I also joined a football team in my first year in Prague, but I quickly found I was enjoying the cricket more – the whole “spirit” of the game was much better, with teammates encouraging each other over mistakes rather than berating them.”
It’s a diverse community that has seen a steady incline over the years as more players, Czech or expat, are beginning to pick up a cricket bat on a regular basis. Despite their alliances to their respective teams, Dan and Scott are both eager to see interest grow in the sport, although the facilities will need to improve at the same rate.
The four Prague based clubs share practice nets at Olšanské Náměstí but it’s not an ideal situation if players really want to improve their game.
“Guys can be waiting around for five or ten minutes in between each ball and it’s not conducive to improving your game,” Scott said “You need to be able to bowl spells and replicate a match situation but it can be difficult when you have 10-15 guys waiting in the nets.”
Scott, who setup Bohemians CC and is a qualified cricket coach, has been involved in Czech cricket for around 15 years and his enthusiasm for the game is almost infectious as he bounces from one idea to the next in promoting Cricket in the Czech Republic.
“I’m from a small town where everyone played sport, so it’s normal for me to play and be involved in cricket” he said “I work mainly with promoting the grass roots of cricket. It’s very fulfilling to put something back into the sport you love to play. Especially when the juniors you have coached make the national team and become the new rising stars – it makes it all worthwhile.”
Scott has organized several cricket events in the community and works with local schools on a regular basis to get the kids playing cricket. Raising awareness of cricket in the area has been a success; however, Scott wants to build on the momentum and improve future events.
“We are always looking for sponsors to help with small activities and also improve the facilities we currently use in the 20/40 over leagues.”
The Czech Cricket Association (Českomoravský Kriketový Svaz) held their 2013 AGM last month and chairman Hugo Banks was pleased with the progress made over the last year “People are taking more interest in getting more cricket to happen in this country.”
The Czech national team competes in the ICC European Division 3 alongside the likes of Bulgaria, Slovenia and Estonia; however, they have decided, for financial and logistical reasons, not to compete in 2013 tournament but remain fully committed to participate in 2014.
The national team is picked from the pool of players that compete in the domestic league and have been living in the country for seven years or more – although you are allowed to pick a handful of players who have been living in the country for just four years.
Domestically the Pro 40-over league got underway this weekend and it’s clear to see the friendly, yet fierce, competitive rivalry that exists between the teams.
“This gives me something to aim at!” Scott says with a wide smile as he picked up Dan’s cricket helmet and pointed towards the Prague Cricket Club sticker in the middle.
Results from the weekend:
40-over league match at Kriket Vinoř
Bohemian CC 73 all out (19.0 overs; S Page 18, L Fencl 4-12, B Souček 3-12)
Vinohrady CC 76-2 (16.3 overs; L Fencl 21*, P Vincent 1-13)
Vinohrady CC won by 8 wickets
*Match reduced to 20 overs per side because of bad weather
40-over league match at Kriket Vinoř
Prague Barbarians CC 72 all out (25.2 overs; Y Salian 23, M Menon 4-11)
Prague CC 73-8 (22.4 overs; P Sadasivan 19, Y Salian 2-5)
Prague CC won by two wickets
Match reduced to 28 overs per side because of bad weather
For further information on how to get involved please visit www.czechcricket.cz