Edinburgh club Carlton is preparing to head to Spain in a few days time to represent Scotland in the European Cricket League 2022 T10 event.
A 13-man squad and support staff will fly out on Sunday, February 20 to play Group C matches against Brescia from Italy, Cluj from Romania, Prague from the Czech Republic, Olten from Switzerland and Zeytinburnu Zafer from Turkey at the Cartama Cricket Oval in Malaga.
Five group matches between February 21 and 23 will be followed by two days of play-offs to determine the overall winner from Group C, who will then return for Finals week from March 14 to 18.
The event, featuring men’s teams from 29 different European nations, got underway on February 7 and Group A has been played already and Group B is being played this week.
Carlton are the Scottish side in the showpiece ‘Champions League of Cricket’ having won the national T20 event last summer.
Having claimed the Masterton Trophy in the East of Scotland, beating Heriots and Grange on the way, Carlton triumphed on national finals day at Arbroath’s Lochlands ground in August, seeing off Ferguslie then Forfarshire in the final.
The Carlton squad have been training hard indoors under the watchful eye of coach Steve Gilmour, and the travelling group selected has a mixture of youth and experience.
Three players have full international experience while five more have played age-grade cricket for Scotland. Carlton’s commitment to youth development can be seen by the fact that five of the squad have played junior cricket at Grange Loan over the years.
They will be led by Scotland T20 World Cup squad member Ally Evans while former Ireland cap Rory McCann will also be there, along with other experienced campaigners Fraser Burnett, Umair Mohammed, Arun Pillai and Hugo Southwell.
There is real depth in the squad with Tom Simpson, last year’s vice-captain who is in Australia, the only regular who is not available.
It will be exciting to see how talented young players like Angus Beattie, Shujaa Khan and Ali Shah go after having strong summers in 2021 – and the latter is looking forward to it.
“This is something really exciting, not many cricketeers get to represent their club in Europe so I cannot wait,” says left handed batter Shah, 27, who works as a physio in Kirkcaldy.
“Last year we played some really consistent cricket in the T20 format and I think we have become a pretty good unit.
“We played two of our best games of the summer on national finals day which qualified us to play in the European Cricket League and ever since then the guys have been buzzing to get the chance to head to Spain and play.
“In the last few weeks training indoors has been going well and you can see from the squad selected that we have a lot of bases covered in terms of different skillsets and the like.
“Obviously this is going to be T10 cricket and not T20, so we have been working on a few strategies for that. As batters we are just looking to score off every ball and, if we cannot get a boundary, keep the strike ticking over.
“It is exciting to be playing against teams from different countries and, in T10, games will move so fast that we can only really concentrate on one ball at a time.
“By the end of next week we want to have done enough to have earned ourselves a place in finals week and everyone is going to give it their all.
“We feel very privileged to be representing Scottish Club cricket on an international stage. We want to play entertaining cricket and see how it goes.”
Everyone involved in cricket in this country wishes Carlton well in this event and look forward to seeing how they get on.
Carlton squad for the European Cricket League 2022:
Ally Evans (c)
For more information on the tournament, visit ecn.cricket/european-cricket-league