Dutch prepare to host European A Championship


If the finish to next week's European A team championship is anything like last year's, we're in for a real treat.

At last year's tournament, played in Rotterdam and Amstelveen, Scotland beat Ireland on the last day's play by just eight runs, but it wasn't quite enough as Ireland just pipped them to the post on net run rate.

John Mooney took 3/19 and scored 28 for Ireland that day and won the player of the tournament award. He's back this year as the Irish captain, and he will be hoping to lead his team to a repeat win at the same two venues. Since last year, he has had a memorable match in the ICC World Twenty20 against Sri Lanka, when he scored an unbeaten 31, giving Ireland a sniff at another famous upset, getting them just nine runs short of Sri Lanka's total.

Also back from last year are Andrew Balbirnie, James Hall and Fintan McAllister. Five players from the Under-19 Championship winning team last month make the trip, with Eddie Richardson named at this level for the first time.

Last year's runners-up Scotland will be captained by Greenock's Richard Berrington, and he'll be hoping to improve on his debut at captaincy for Scotland A, when he led the team to an innings inside two days against Durham Second XI in May.

Berrington is one of ten players in the Scotland squad to have played for the full team, including Qasim Sheikh, one of only a handful of associate players to have played in a domestic competition outside of England. He played for Pakistan Customs in the 2008/9 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring 261 runs in his six matches including his maiden first-class century.

The Netherlands will be captained by Stijn Allema, who also performed this role at the European Under-19 Championship last month, leading his team to second place. He will be wanting to go one better this time.

He played for the Dutch first team in their ICC World Twenty20 warm-up matches earlier this year, and he will be joined by eight players who have played officially for the first team, as well as the up and coming 17 year old Tim Gruijters, who has been involved with the Warwickshire Academy over the last two years, and plays for Walmley in the Birmingham Premier League, in and amongst playing for the Netherlands at last months European Under-19 Championship.

Denmark had a poor tournament last year, losing all three matches including heavy defeats by Scotland and Ireland. Only five players remain from that tournament. With three players called M Pedersen, they could well give the scorers a few troubles!

They've named quite an experienced squad, with seven of the squad having played for Denmark at senior level. Whilst this is less than the other three teams, some of those Danish players have played several times, and they have probably the oldest squad in the competition.

The tournament gets underway on 11 August with Scotland playing the Netherlands at VRA Amstelveen and Ireland playing Denmark at VOC Rotterdam.