Thanks to the wedding between Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, Italy hogged headlines in a cricket websites despite three simultaneous international series going on (not to mention the numerous domestic tournaments). But then, Italy is not exactly new to cricket. While not quite a world-conquering side, Italy has had decent exposure to cricket over years — all of which started when Horatio Nelson organised the first ever cricket match in the country, back in 1793. Let us have a look.

Michael di Venuto played 9 ODIs for Australia  after they decided to use separate sides for Tests and ODIs in 1997. He was good enough to be named Man of the Match for his 89 against South Africa at Johannesburg.

Di Venuto played for Sussex, Derbyshire, and Durham in England and for Tasmania back home. While still playing for Durham, di Venuto actually played for Italy  in the 2012 World T20 Qualifier. He coached Australia when Darren Lehmann fell ill in 2016, and later coached Surrey and Nepal.

Michael’s elder brother Peter di Venuto had played for Italy a decade before Michael. Peter had played for Tasmania Under-19s and Tasmania Second XI, but not quite to the First-Class level.

Mike Veletta played 8 Tests and 20 ODIs, but will be remembered mostly for the 1987 World Cup final and a magnificent moustache. He walked out at 168 for 4 and hit everyone around, smashing 45 in 31 balls. To give an idea of how crucial the innings was, Australia’s 7-run margin still remains the narrowest in a World Cup final.

It is difficult to imagine Phillip Hughes as part Italian, but his mother Virginia indeed was of Italian origin. In addition, Hughes had a dual passport.

Of course, Ted Dexter needs little introduction. A Test career amounting to 4,502 runs at 48 and 66 wickets at 35 tells the story. One of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball, Dexter also led Sussex and England with distinction. He was born in Milan, and remains the only Test cricketer born in Italy.

But none of them, even Dexter, tops the list of cricket’s Italian connections. A Genoa-born called Emanuel Danero Neich was one of the first Italians to migrate to Australia (he left in 1826). He fathered 24 children from two marriages (and a 25th outside them, with Mary Cupitt).

This 25th child (not chronologically) was a daughter, Sophia Neich. Sophia married one William Whatman. Their sixth child Emily married a man called George. Emily and George’s son went by the somewhat famous name of Don Bradman.

Footnote: Writing for FourFourTwo, Tim Ellis mentioned an anecdote about Christian Vieri that must be mentioned here. Vieri idolised Allan Border and swapped shirts with the latter at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He was even under the impression that he was an ordinary football, and preferred cricket more…