Bristol claim inaugural Europa Cup in Munich
Mon, May 25, 2009 12:28 PM
The Europa Cup was Germany's contribution to the ICC centenary year "Catch the Spirit celebrations, and grew out of two developments over recent years. Firstly, the active promotion of girls and ladies cricket in northern Germany, in particular in Berlin, Oldenburg and Schwerin. Secondly, the establishment of a regional youth cricket network in Central Europe between Bratislava, Munich, Prague, Vienna and Switzerland. These developments were brought together in Munich and supported under the "Catch the Spirit" celebrations to form the Europa Cup, an an outdoor, hardball U17 tournament for girls, the first ever of its kind in Central Europe.
Invitations went out to neighbouring countries including Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. In addition, the long-standing links between Germany and Gloucestershire led to the participation of Bristol Phoenix CC from the UK. Cold and wet weather during the week gave way to warmth and sun over on the Friday 1 May bank holiday as over 50 players arrived at the opening dinner at the Surbahar restaurant from Bristol, Münchberg, Oldenburg, Passau, Schwerin, Szekesfehervar, Tegernsee, and Vienna as well as the local Munich girls.
Six teams were formed for an all-play-all group stage followed by play-offs for final positions. All matches were 12-over innings and play took place on two pitches at the Lufthansa Service Centre CC ground at Attaching near the Munich airport. On Saturday, Bristol swiftly justified their favourite status with convincing wins over Schwerin & Tegernsee, Szekesfehervar and Oldenburg & Passau, who hotly contested the following places.
Sunday saw Schwerin & Tegernsee fall just three runs short of Oldenburg & Passau's target of 75 in a tense decider. This result sent Oldenburg & Passau into the play-off for 1st and 2nd places against Bristol.
The standings from the group stage were:
1. Bristol 63 pts
2. Oldenburg & Passau 50 pts
3. Schwerin & Tegernsee 39 pts
4. Szekesfeverhar 30 pts
5. Austria Vienna 15 pts
6. Münchberg & Munich 4 pts
The play-off for 1st and 2nd place was overshadowed by the loss of a key Oldenburg player through injury, but Bristol's all-round excellence saw them comfortably overtake the 55-run target after just six overs to claim the inaugural Europa Cup.
The battle for 3rd and 4th places between Schwerin & Tegernsee and Szekesfehervar was a much closer affair with Schwerin & Tegernsee only reaching the target of 62 after 11 overs.
The 5th and 6th place play-off was also a close affair between the two youngest and most inexperienced teams, Austria Vienna and Münchberg & Munich. Despite the celebrity status of Münchberg from national media coverage ("Church apologises after cricket team loses to Germans" in the Daily Telegraph) in both the UK and Germany, some of the girls had not held a bat or ball until just a few days earlier. That they could score 64 and push Austria Vienna into the 10th over was a victory of sorts.
The outcome of the play-offs was therefore that the positions from the group stage were maintained:
2. Oldenburg & Passau
3. Schwerin & Tegernsee
5. Austria Vienna
6. Münchberg & Munich
The Europa Cup was good fun, and organised and played in a great spirit by all concerned. It is also a definite step on the way to developing ladies cricket in Central Europe. No doubt many of the girls will meet again as representatives of their full national teams. Many thanks are due to the ICC for supporting this event, as well as to all those involved in making it possible.