The Italian Almanac

player

Italian Sport January 27

The sound of leather on willow is not one you’d expect to hear in Italy, but contrary to popular belief, the country where football reigns supreme does have a cricket team.

And perhaps even more surprisingly, the national side is competing in an eight-nation tournament in Malaysia next month which, if they win, will take them a step closer to the 2007 World Cup, one-day cricket’s biggest prize. Excitement hasn't exactly reached fever pitch in Italy, but coach Joe Scuderi believes cricket here is slowly gaining ground. “The fact that there are Italians playing cricket is just not something people are aware of,” he told.

“It’s very difficult trying to promote the sport in a country that has no tradition of cricket and is dominated by football. Rugby has had similar problems in Italy, but the sport has made good progress since joining the six nations tournament and that’s something we can take encouragement from. We are improving all the time and that has been reflected by the quality of our recent performances.”

With only 700 registered players and only 400,000 Euros of funding from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) each year, Italy have had to spread their net far and wide to attract players. “Culturally it’s difficult attracting people to cricket in Italy, but we do have two reservoirs of resources - the local Asian community and Italians living abroad,” said Simone Gambino, president of the Italian cricket federation.