The first cricket match in Romania was played in Bucharest on 18 June 1893 between Bucharest and Brăila and won by the latter by 17 runs. The game developed as a pastime of the British community and survived up to the late 1920s when declining trade and political unrest caused a decline in the number of British residents.

Teams existed in Bucharest, Ploiești, Galați and Constanța. One of the last matches played was between Bucharest and Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1930, a game which involved 21 Englishmen and one Dane. Bucharest won the match which was notable for the attitude of the local British military authorities who charged the cricketers £25 for damage to the football pitch on which the game was played.

The game resumed in the early part of the 21st century after a wave of immigration from the subcontinent and other traditional cricket playing countries. The first matches for the national team were played in June 2009 when they hosted Bulgaria for a three match T20 series in which the visitors won all three games.

The Romanian (left) and Bulgarian squads at the 2020 Balkan Cup series at Moara VlasieiThe Romanian (left) and Bulgarian squads at the 2020 Balkan Cup series at Moara Vlasiei (© Cricket Romania)

The following year they played in the Euro Twenty20 Cup in Skopje, Macadonia, beating Hungary and the hosts in the first round. They missed out on the semi-finals due to not getting enough bonus points and lost to a Cricket Board of Wales XI in the fifth place play-off. They played in the same tournament two years later in Bulgaria, this time beating Serbia and Hungary in the group stages to qualify for the semi-finals where they beat the hosts before losing to Poland in the final. Earlier in the year they hosted and won a tri-series also involving Serbia and Bulgaria.

From 2013 to 2015 they hosted the Continental Cricket Cup at their main ground in Ilov County near Bucharest, their opponents mostly coming from their fellow Eastern European countries. Romania won in the 2013 and 2014 tournaments.

In 2019, Romanian cricket hit the headlines when Cluj Cricket Club played in the European Cricket League. The tournament was televised worldwide, and footage of Pavel Florin’s unique bowling action initially attracted mockery. That mockery soon turned to respect when the social media savvy ECL team uploaded an interview with Florin to their Twitter account in which he said that he didn’t care if his bowling wasn’t beautiful because he loved cricket.

Celebration time after winning the 2020 Balkan Cup seriesCelebration time after winning the 2020 Balkan Cup series (© Cricket Romania)

Florin became something of a cult figure, being interviewed on Test Match Special and receiving invitations to play club cricket in England and Australia. His passion for a game he came to late in life – he was 40 during the ECL – was infectious. Unique it may be, but his bowling has been effective – he has six wickets in T20Is at an average of 11.33.

Romania’s first T20Is – which included Florin – came later in 2019 when they hosted a five-team tournament also involving Austria, Czechia, Luxembourg and Turkey. Romania just missed out on the final on net run rate with the tournament being won by Austria.

Their next T20Is came in October 2020 when they beat Bulgaria 3-1 in a series for the Balkan Cup. In the first match of the series, Marian Gherasim became the youngest men’s T20I player at 14 years and 16 days.

14 year old Marian Gherasim become the youngest men's T20 international player making his against Bulgaria in October 2020.14 year old Marian Gherasim become the youngest men's T20 international player making his against Bulgaria in October 2020. (© Cricket Romania)

Romania were set to play their first ICC tournament in 2020 as part of the European qualifiers for what was originally set to be the 2021 T20 World Cup. The Covid-19 pandemic postponed those events to 2021 and 2022 respectively.