Inaugural European T20 tournament begins in Slovenia this week
The ICC European Division 3 Championship starts in Slovenia this week as the six teams look to win the prize of a place in the ICC European Division 2 tournament in Belgium in June.
With the new European structure in place this year, the inaugural T20 tournaments kick off on Wednesday, as teams look to the theoretical prospect of progress to Division 1, the global qualifier in the UAE next March, and the World Twenty20 championship itself, to be held in Sri Lanka later in 2012.
The tournament is taking place between 11-14 May, with hosts Slovenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey all competing. There are two venues for the tournament Valburga- Ljublijana Cricket Club and Velden- Cricket Club Velden.
Hosts Slovenia are unquestionably the most experienced side in this opening tournament, having been taking part in European competition since 2000. Most recently, they played in the ICC European Division 4 of the 50-over championship in Cyprus in 2009, where they finished without a win, but they will be keen to redeem themselves on home soil this time.
Batsman Tom Furness takes over the captaincy from Mark Oman, and the side will be reinforced by the return of Stephen Mayland, who missed out on the Cyprus event. The squad includes seven Slovenian-born players, including newcomers Blaz Praper and Primoz Pustoslemsek.
Of the remaining sides, Sweden have the best credentials, having finished second to hosts Hellas in the Division 5 tournament in Corfu two years ago. Seven of that squad will be in Slovenia, including the leading wicket-taker in Corfu, Afghan-born Azam Khalil, who took 16 wickets at an average of 6.31.
Khalil also hit a half-century as the Swedes ran up 348 for nine against the Czech Republic in that tournament, and they will be hoping that their hard-hitting approach will serve them well in the shortest form of the game.
It will, however, be a very different Czech Republic team which will take the field at Valburga and Velden – only four of the side from Corfu, including captain Scott Page, will be playing in Slovenia. Notably, the squad includes three Czech-born 17-year-olds, in Adam Holub, Damian Kysely and Alexander Storek.
The remaining three sides, Estonia, Turkey and Bulgaria, all made their international debut in Corfu, each winning one match.
The Estonians will again have the leading all rounder from that event, Murali Obili, who made 146 runs and took 13 wickets at 9.62. Their five newcomers include another 17-year-old, Estonian-born Marten Kundla.
Turkey will field seven new players, with Huseyin Sen again the only Turkish-born member of the squad. The captaincy has been assumed by wicketkeeper Muhammad Aasim.
Bulgaria have a named a balanced squad of experience and youth as Vladimir Ruskov the youngest member at 22 looks help Bulgaria make an impression.
The full squads are as follows:
: Saif-ur Rehman (Captain), Stuart Clarkson, Ivan Dimitrov, Ivaylo Dunchev, Mohamad Hanif, Amal John, Ivaylo Katzarski, Mushtaq Lone, Prakash Mishra, Vladimir Ruskov, Danail Trenev, Georgi Velinov, Lyubomir Zanev, Leven Kortel, Lyudmil Trenev
: Scott Page (Captain), Sunil Ambar, Hugo Banks, John Corness, Sivagnanam Gnanatheeswaran, Adam Holub, Vojtech Hasa, Damian Kesely, Jobi Samuel, Brigmam Smith, Benjamin Soucek , Mikulas Stary, Alexander Arthur Storek.
: Sivalingham Arunachalam, Andres Burget, Vineeth Govind, Timothy Heath, Peter van Buuren , Marten Kundla, Murali Obili, Anil Puri, Moshiur Rahman, Nand Lal Riar , Oliver Slobodetsky, Mart Tammoja, Marko Vaik, Kalle Vilslapuu
: Tom Furness (Captain), Urban Blaznik, Domen Bohinc, Rok Bohinc, Robert Crawford, Bradley Eve, Lalantha Karunatilake, Simon Kaučič, Stephen Mayland, Mark Oman, Blaž Praper, Primož Pustoslemšek, Nejc Zupan
: Imran Amjad, Serge Conein, Sanaullah Habibzai, Azam Khalil, Maqsood Khawaja, Azam Mohammad, Shahid Mustafa, Ewan Prezens, Piyal Rahman, Sunny Sharma, Sadat Sidiqi, Bilal Zaigham, Hassan Zaigham, Ahmad Zadran, Aman Khan Zahid, Sandeep Sharma
: Muhammad Aasim (Captain), Muneer Ahmed, Salman Ali, Sajjad Haider, Mubashir Khan, Nabeel Munir, Abdullah Numan, Mohammad Razak, Huseyin Sen, Imran Sharif, Ali Turkmen, Mecit Turkmenoglu, Hammad Ul Haq
The full schedule for ICC European Division is 3 as follows:
11 May- Czech Republic v Bulgaria (Valburga 10.00 local start time); Estonia v Slovenia (Velden 10.00); Sweden v Estonia (Valburga 15.30); Turkey v Slovenia (Velden 15.30)
12 May- Czech Republic v Estonia (Valburga 10.00 local start time); Sweden v Turkey (Velden 10.00); Turkey v Bulgaria (Valburga 15.30); Slovenia v Sweden (Velden 15.30)
13 May- Bulgaria v Estonia (Valburga 10.00 local start time); Turkey v Czech Republic (Velden 10.00); Slovenia v Bulgaria (Valburga 15.30); Czech Republic v Sweden (Velden 15.30)
14 May- Bulgaria v Sweden (Valburga 10.00 local start time); Estonia v Turkey (Velden 10.00); Slovenia v Czech Republic (Valburga 15.30)
For more information on ICC European Division 3 please visit http://www.cricketeurope4.net/CRICKETEUROPE/DATABASE/2011/TOURNAMENTS/EURODIV3/index.shtml