Amazon Cup flyer-300
A Flier with the fixtures of the tri-nation Amazon Cup Photo Courtesy: Olly West

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Sep 28, 2014

In football-mad Colombia, cricket has been played since 1903 quite intermittently. Though it has enjoyed a 100-year history, cricket could never quite take off in Colombia with only a few entities playing the game. However, in recent times, the sport has received a major boost with the formation of the Colombia Cricket Board (CCB) in June 2014. With the board in place, the cricket lovers in the South American nation aim to spread their wings and take the gentleman’s game to every corner of the country.

Cricket was predominantly played in Bogota and Cali. But now, it has spread to Medellin, where there is a cricket academy in place. The Ambassador’s Cup used to be played between the Bogota Cricket Club (BCC) and the Cali Cricket Club (CCC). For a few years, this tournament wasn’t played, but it was started again in 2010. If the new club at Medellin makes good progress, it could well be a third team in the tournament. They also aim to start a Bogota Premier League (BPL) Big Bosh.

Recently, the Bogota Sports Club (BSC) played host to a unique fixture between an International XI and an India XI. The Indian expatriates took on the rest in this unique game, which was won by the International XI. That too is a reflection of the nature of the sport in the country. The expatriates, living miles away from home, indulge in such games to keep the sport alive in the country. Cricket us yet to reach the local population, which is an endeavour of the CCB. And, they may just have the way to do it.

Colombia will play its first international cricket match in four years when they will host Brazil and Peru for the Amazon Cup on October 4 and 5. In football, Colombia have shared a rivalry with Brazil and bringing that into cricket may just give the sport a good boost. Peru and Brazil are Affiliate members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Colombia is yet to enter into the fold. With the formation of the board, they have a good chance of pushing for it and this tournament is just a step in that direction.

It won’t be easy for Brazil and Peru though. Bogota is 2,600 metres above sea level and they may find it difficult to come to terms with the conditions.  On October 4, Colombia first face Peru in the morning to commence the tournament. Peru and Brazil will then face off in the afternoon. The next morning will see the footballing rivals, Colombia and Brazil face off and the final would be played that afternoon. A good performance in this tournament may help Colombia push for a spot in the South American Cricket Championship 2015 in Chile.

Andy White, the CCB President is hopeful that this tournament will go a long way in helping the sport in the country. “We are really excited to welcome ICC Associate nations Peru and Brazil to Colombia to benchmark our playing standards against more established cricketing countries in the region. We are hopeful that this will help concentrate efforts across the country as cricket reaches its most popular levels since the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s. Above all we hope to encourage more young Colombians to try this alternative yet enjoyable sport,” he said.

The CCB has many objectives. Mainly, they aim to get the locals to play and take it to other cities as well. Schools are in their priority list as they aim to provide coaching lessons to the kids. For now, this tournament is a giant leap for this nation and cricket lovers would hope it grows to become popular. Jairo Andres Venegas, the CCB secretary and the wicketkeeper of the Colombian team said, It’s a great honour to be the first Colombian selected to play for the national team. Hopefully more of my compatriots will follow my steps and learn to enjoy and love this great game.”

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)