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Things never seemed as they good for Belgium cricket as they did 24 months ago. The national men’s senior team was in ICC Europe Div 1, having won the ICC div 2 tournament as the host country in 2011. And thus, qualified to enter the World Cricket League (WCL) Qualifying Tournament in Dec 2012. Though ultimately, qualification for WCL was not achieved. Fast forward to Aug 2013 and things could not appear to be worse. The team underperformed at ICC Div 1 tournament in Sussex UK; their one win only good enough to finish in last place, demotion and a return to div 3 the result.

But on Apr 27, 2014 a new group of Belgium cricketers will depart for the latest ICC Europe tournament. Their mission, to restore some of the pride lost in the past 12 months. The team has many new faces. Chief among them, captain Brighton Watambwa formerly of Zimbabwe but now qualified to represent Belgium. Brighton leads a squad which blends youth (eg Syed ‘Mishi’ Jamil, Nofil Aziz, Mamoon Latif) with experience (eg Abdul Rehman, Shahid Muhammad, Mahesh Krishnamoorthy) and promises a good showing against the other teams taking part in this 20/20 tournament. The tournament will run from April 30 – May 4 and is being hosted by the Spain Cricket Federation at the lovely La Manga sports club resort. The other participating nations are: Spain, Hellas (Greece), Israel and Finland.

The 14 man squad chosen by coaches Roland Lefebvre, Nolan Clarke, Fazil Mahmoud and captain Brighton Watambwa is as follows:

1. Brighton Watambwa – Captain (RBCC)
2. Abdul Rehman – Vice Captain (Ostend CC)
3. Mahesh Krishnamoorthy – Wicketkeeper (12Stars CC)
4. Syed ‘Mishi’ Jamil – (RBCC)
5. Nofil Aziz – (RBCC)
6. Greg Hawson – (RBCC)
7. ‘Sunny’ Sheraz Muhammad – (Ostend CC)
8. Faisal Khaliq – (Ostend CC)
9. Shahid Muhammed – (Ostend CC)
10. Mamoon Latif – (Crescent CC)
11. Fahim Bhatti – (Crescent CC)
12. Reyhan Faiz – (Gent CC)
13. Jamie Farmiloe – (Antwerp CC)
14. Waqas Shafiq – (Greens CC)

• Ali Raza – wicketkeeper (Gent CC)
• Soheel Hussain – (Ostend CC)
• Deepak Mohinder – (Ostend CC)
• Nirvam Shah – (AICC)

Coach Fazil Mahmoud
Manager Nolan Clarke

Comments from the captain and coach:
Captain Brighton Watambwa says.

“Obviously due to the European winter we (as probably the other teams) have been forced to do almost all of our preparations in indoor facilities in Belgium and The Netherlands which is not 100% ideal. But we’ve benefitted significantly from our preparations and are confident about the tournament. The drilling from our coaches, Fazil, Nolan and Roland has produced marked improvement in most, as well as dusting off the rustiness from the long break since the end of last season. There’s a new spirit evident within the team with the group gelling remarkably well and hopefully we can turn this spirit into positive results on the field. We’re all really excited and looking forward to the tournament and hope we can turn in strong performances resulting in promotion to Div 2. We’re under no illusions regarding the strength of the other teams. But will focus on our own performances with the knowledge that if we play anywhere near our potential we will definitely be force to be reckoned with”.

Coach Fazil Mahmoud:
“This is the start of a new era in Belgium cricket. A lot of changes have been made in all areas and the team selection shows our focus on youth. The average age of the team is considerably reduced and you will see more younger players in future Belgium squads. There is improved clarity on how to deal with disciplinary issues. In the past some tours went wrong due to lack of discipline which affects performance. This present squad is fully aware that they are ambassadors of their country who are there solely to play cricket. We have a very good squad of young enthusiastic players who have a great future in this game. The other coaches and I are very happy to work with them, have patience with them, encourage them and coach them not only on the technique and skills of cricket but to coach them as people to get the best out of themselves, now and in the future in all their endeavours.

I dare them to challenge themselves to take risks to move to higher levels than ever imagined.

Teddy Roosevelt captured it best when he said:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

I wish you all a successful tour and the best of luck. I hope we come back triumphant inshAlla”.

Belgium will also be hoping that its new playing strip will help bring about a change in fortunes.
The strip, which was designed by a few of the players, features a new red (previously yellow) coloured shirt along with red cap (previously black). In addition to the colour changes, the new strip is made from lightweight material which will prove useful in the heat of southern Spain.

The BCF Committee extends its best wishes to the team and urges all cricket lovers to follow Belgium in its matches on http://www.icc-europe.org

Faithfully on Behalf of Belgium Cricket Federation

Anthony Brand

Director, National Teams