Cricket has always been a game of the commonwealth countries. Even then only 10 countries are full members of ICC, rest are either associate or affiliate members. In countries other than the British colonies the flame kindled weakly in the form of a few cricket clubs. Although they are not popular, clubs like Berlin Cricket Club and Milan Cricket club still carry the onus of cricket in their respective countries.
For Colombia it has been an entirely different story. While the Spanish dominion ensured a constant passion for the more popular “Joga Bonito”, cricket remained an obscure sport played only by a selected few, mostly British and Canadian joined by a couple of Trinidadians.
The enthusiasm was concentrated mainly within Bogota, the national capital, with the players being either staffs of Anglo Colombian schools or members of the British Petroleum Workforce. It is worthy to mention in this context that Bogota Sports club the traditional home of Colombian cricket has already celebrated its golden anniversary.
In spite of all this, it still had been too much to expect from the Colombian national team to play a full- fledged tournament against affiliate nations, until recently. The Amazon cup, a triangular tournament of T-20 format has been conducted between Colombia, Brazil and Peru, the venue being Bogota Sports Club. Inaugurating the Amazon Cup, Colombia will also eye for the 2015 South American Cricket Championship in Chile.
Brazil and Peru had acquired the status of ICC affiliated members some ten years back. It was a refreshing experience for the Colombian team to welcome their neighbours since they last played with Costa Rica back in 2010. “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,” said CCB President Andy Wright.
Unfortunately from a country boasting of players like James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, the only Colombian born cricketer happens to be Jairo Andres Venegas, who plays behind the stumps; the other players are from Australia, England, India, Guyana and South Africa. “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. The Amazon Cup is an opportunity for Colombian cricket to gain visibility in our own country and throughout Latin America”, added Venegas, who also happens to be the secretary of the Colombian Cricket Board.
CCB formed in June 2014, has decided to popularise the sport by spreading the game in the schools apart from organizing competitive leagues (the Ambassador’s Cup being one of the established tournaments). A major problem faced by the enthusiasts is the lack of spectators as the commoners are yet to imbibe the “new” form of game.
Another problem experienced by the cricketers, particularly in Bogota is a technical snag – but nonetheless an important one. Nestled in Andes with 2640 metres altitude the bowlers find it difficult to swing, the still air hardly helping in the movement of the seam. But as long as it helps batsmen from both the sides, who cares about such technical stuff when a new era of Colombian Cricket is at stake?