The first official record of cricket in Italy relates to a painting by Jacques Sablet, signed and dated 1792, depicting Thomas Hope, a merchant from Amsterdam, playing cricket when on the Grand Tour. In 1811 a club was formed in Naples by Colonel Maceroni to provide entertainment for the many expatriates, both military and civilian.

The late 19th century saw the formation of two clubs which were to morph into much more recognizable soccer sides. 1893 saw the foundation of the Genoa Cricket and Football club, which was quickly followed by Milan Cricket and Football (AC Milan) and the International Cricket and Football Club in Turin (Juventus).

Italy's Anam Molik batting against Jersey in the 2018 European T20 Qualifiers (© Martin Gray)Italy's Anam Molik batting against Jersey in the 2018 European T20 Qualifiers (© Martin Gray)

After the 1900s cricket barely existed with the game only making sporadic appearances throughout the country. The game did not revive until the 1960s when a concrete pitch was laid at the Villa Pamphili by Admiral Frank Pogson. A trophy was presented by British Embassy official Hugh Jones which saw six teams competing in what became known as the 'Rome Ashes'.

This provided the catalyst for the formation of the Rome Sports Association, with the highlight of what is looked upon as a golden age for the game being a stopover by Australia in 1964 when they played a game in Rome.

Simone Gambino

Before cricket died out completely, some enthusiastic Italians founded the Italian Cricket Association in 1980. Their first objective was to revive the game in Rome and encourage Italian participation. By 1984 the clubs of Capanelle, Lazio and Roma had been formed in the capital. Simone Gambino became President in 1986 and the maestro continues to be a dominant and influential figure to the present day.

Under Gambino's indefatigable guidance, tours were undertaken to England, while local clubs were mandated to have at least seven nationals in their club championships, a figure later increased to nine. The all-local nature of the national side in an increasingly cosmopolitan world meant some heavy defeats, including 1 490-run mauling by Denmark which contributed to a relaxation of the policy to allow passport holders.

Joe Scuderi batting at Bangor for Italy against ECB England at the 2002 European ChampionshipJoe Scuderi batting at Bangor for Italy against ECB England at the 2002 European Championship (©CricketEurope)

Numerous overseas tours were embarked upon, including trips to Argentina, South Africa and Namibia. They participated in the 1996 European Championships and 1997 ICC Trophy, while in 1998 under the wily coaching of Doug Ferguson they won all their games in the B Division of the European Championships, gaining promotion to the top flight. Although they struggled finishing last in the top echelons in both 2000 and 2002, they did gain notable scalps along the way beating Denmark in 2000 and The Netherlands in 2002, by one run at Comber, North Down. That win was inspired by their most famous player, Joe Scuderi, who played for South Australia and Lancashire.

An eligibility row over four players saw Italy withdraw from the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada, while they failed to make the 2005 edition after finishing seventh out of eight teams in Malaysia.

Peter Petricola bowling for Italy against Ireland in the 2008 European Championship.Peter Petricola bowling for Italy against Ireland in the 2008 European Championship (© CricketEurope)

They repeated their shock win against the Netherlands in the 2008 European Championships at North County, while in the World Cricket League they flitted between Divisions 4 and 3 for the most part.

In recent times the emphasis has been on T20 cricket and they came close to beating eventual winners Ireland in the 2013 T20 World Cup qualifiers in Abu Dhabi, losing a low scoring encounter by two wickets. This had come just months after their victory over Denmark to clinch the European Division One T20 crown.

They lost out to Jersey and Denmark in the 2015 qualifiers, but topped their group in 2018 in The Netherlands. They played their first T20I in 2019 beating Germany, while in the World Cricket League they have been placed in Group B alongside Uganda, Hong Kong, Jersey, Kenya and Bermuda.

Their first five matches in the league have seen wins against Kenya and Bermuda, losses against Jersey and Uganda, with a no-result against Hong Kong.

It promises to be an exciting tournament when cricket is given the green light to resume, hopefully in the latter part of 2020 or early 2021.

Italy at International Tournaments
View Tournament1996 European Division 1 (Copenhagen)
View Tournament1997 ICC Trophy (Kuala Lumpur)
View Tournament1998 European Division 1 (Netherlands)
View Tournament2000 European Division 1 (Scotland)
View Tournament2002 European Division 1 (N Ireland)
View Tournament2004 European Division 2 (Belgium)
View Tournament2005 ICC Trophy Qualifier (Malaysia)
View Tournament2006 European Division 1 (Scotland)
View Tournament2007 European Under 23 Division 2 (Guernsey)
View Tournament2007 WCL Division 3 (Darwin, Australia)
View Tournament2008 European Division 1 (Ireland)
View Tournament2010 European Division 1 (Jersey)
View Tournament2010 WCL Division 4 (Bologna)
View Tournament2011 European Division 1 (Jersey & Guernsey)
View Tournament2011 WCL Division 3 (Hong Kong)
View Tournament2012 World T20 Qualifier (UAE)
View Tournament2013 European Division 1 (England)
View Tournament2013 WCL Division 3 (Bermuda)
View Tournament2013 World T20 Qualifier (UAE)
View Tournament2014 WCL Division 4 (Singapore)
View Tournament2015 European Division 1 (Jersey)
View Tournament2016 WCL Division 4 (Los Angeles, USA)
View Tournament2018 European Division 1 (Netherlands)
View Tournament2019 World T20 Qualifier Europe (Guernsey)

This history of the game in Italy was first written by Roy Morgan in 2006 and has been updated by CricketEurope.