A Kent All Rounder, Associate Clubs And An Ex-Scotland Rugby Player - The ECL
Updated: May 17
With the weather as cold and miserable as it is in the UK and Ireland over winter, cricket seems like a far away dream both in terms of distance and time.
Watching overseas tours on the telly in places like Australia and the West Indies seems almost other-worldly but there is still some cricket happening closer to home.
Beyond the indoor leagues and net sessions at the local community college for amateur cricket tragics there is some actual outdoor cricket happening in Europe in the form of the European Cricket League or ECL.
After 2 years away the competition returns, this time hosted at the Cartama Oval in Málaga after the first edition in 2019 was held up the Spanish coast at the Manga Club.
The competition's aims are hugely admirable, to grow the game in Europe and specifically for Associate Nations within the continent.
The is not a league that is entirely dominated by clubs from established cricketing nations either with many of the teams packed with very talented Asian expat.
No doubt you may have seen various pieces of footage from the ECL which throws out moments of absolute magic and village hilarity in equal measure.
Each side has earned their place at this year’s ECL by winning their own respective National Club T20 competitions.
So what have the main takeaways been from this season?
The beautiful Cartama Oval (Photo credit: Toby Marriott)
The Cartama Oval is one of the best grounds on mainland Europe so it’s no surprise that it was chosen for the location of these finals.
A properly prepared turf wicket is a fairly rare occurrence on mainland Europe but set into the hills near Malaga the ground has become a premier destination for clubs looking for winter games in warmer climes.
It’s reputation as a destination for overseas teams made it the perfect place for this competition.
The Kent Professional
Amongst the other clubs dotted around Europe this 2022 edition of the ECL welcomes an English team for the first time in the form of Tunbridge Wells who qualified for the competition via the National T20 Cup where they beat Barnard Castle in the final.
Amongst their rank in this competition is Kent all-rounder Marcus O'Riordan who will bring some level of professionalism to the competition. That’s not to say the ECL hasn’t seen professionals before, Bailey Wightman (who represented Kent last summer) is also representing Tunbridge Wells in this tournament and Dutch international Max O’Dowd starred in the previous ECL for VOC Rotterdam.
In 2019, VOC Rotterdam managed to win the competition and have returned as the reigning champions.
The Netherlands are the only country with two representatives at this tournament in both Rotterdam and HBS Craeyenhout and will be looking to return back to Holland.
Interestingly, VOC are the only club present at this year’s competition who’s home ground is also a full international venue which has hosted a number of Dutch games. Away from VOC, Tunbridge Wells also boast top class home facilities with The Nevill Ground which hosts a number of Kent games every year.
A Scottish International
There’s one man playing at this competition who’s international pedigree puts many others playing to shame. Hugo Southwell became used to playing in front of 60,000 fans but never in cricket whites but with the thistle of Scottish Rugby on his chest
Southwell played 59 times for his country over the course of 7 years but since retirement has been making appearances for Edinburgh side Carlton.
A talented all-rounder during his school days at Eastbourne College, the talented sportsman was forced to choose between cricket and rugby, a tug-of-war that was eventually won by the latter.
Southwell during his playing career with Wasps
(Photo credit: "Hugo Southwell" by Peter J Dean is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Off the back of a fantastic international career it looks like he made the right choice whilst still giving him a chance to turn to his second love now his rugby days are behind him.