A close neighbour of England but do they play cricket? – A look at Cricket in Belgium
Belgium might be one of the closest European nations to England but that doesn’t mean it is automatically associated with cricket. Like most European nations you could be forgiven for thinking that cricket is absent from the small nation however it actually has a long history in Belgium.
The earliest recorded game of cricket in the region was in 1815 when British soldiers played a game shortly before the Battle of Waterloo. A number of years later in 1866 the Brussels’s Cricket Club ground was opened, an event captured in an artwork that hangs at Lord’s today. It was another fourteen years before another club was created, that being the Antwerp Football and Cricket Club which was established by British expatriates.
Belgium played their first international match in 1905 against the Netherlands in an annual fixture that remained in place until the mid-1980s. In 1910 Belgium hosted a World’s Fair at which an exhibition cricket tournament was held including a local team plus teams from France, The Netherlands and the MCC.
During the latter half of the twentieth century the number of cricket clubs in Belgium continued to grow. In 1991 Belgium was admitted into the ICC as an Affiliate member and they were promoted to Associate status in 2005.
Over the years Belgium has had gradual success in international competition as part of the European championship with their best result coming in 2011 when they hosted the European T20 Division 2 Championship and finished the tournament undefeated champions. This success propelled them into the European first division and they were invited to compete in a world qualifier in Samoa in 2012 where they finished fourth.
Today there are almost twenty cricket clubs in Belgium with even more social groups in existence that play cricket. Belgium also has ten cricket grounds and a growing appetite for the game with a new ground to be opened in 2014.
Belgium currently sits 9th in the European cricket standings and 44th in the World Cricket League ladder.