MORETON Hall Preparatory School’s South African games teacher Andrew Northcote has a chance at starring at this Summer’s Twenty20 cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka, but not by representing his home nation.
That is because the 28-year-old, who has spent the previous three seasons playing for Woolpit in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division Two, is currently almost 3,500 miles across the world in Dubai, representing Italy in an ICC Twenty20 World Cup qualifying competition, with a chance of gaining qualification to the main competition in September.
The 16 nations have been split into two groups with Italy being drawn alongside Oman, USA, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Uganda and Namibia in Group A while Group B is made up of Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Denmark, Nepal, Bermuda and Canada.
The top three teams from each group enter the playoffs, with two going onto the World Cup.
Speaking earlier this week prior to the competition, Northcote, who has represented Italy since 2007, spoke about his pride at being selected and what his side’s chances were of clinching a spot in Sri Lanka.
“It is a great honour to representing Italy, and this tournament is a fantastic opportunity for us play our way into the World Cup,” he said.
“Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Holland and Afganistan will be the favourites but if we start strongly with a couple of wins then you never know.
“This competition could put us on the map, it will take a lot to win our group and qualify for the World Cup but we are confident of causing an upset.”
As is often the case in cricket, teams are made up of a number of dual nationality players and Italy are no different including just one player born and bred in the nation among their ranks with four South Africans, four Australians and three Sri Lankans making up the rest of the squad.
Northcote himself qualified to represent the country through his Italian mother and although he conceded sceptics may question the multitude of nationalities in the squad, he is adamant the pride felt by representing Italy cannot be in doubt.
“People may question whether we are really a national side, having just one player born and bred in Italy but if they realised what some of us have done and given to Italian cricket, they would think twice before questioning our loyalties and where they lie,” he added.
“I think it has a positive affect on the team having players from outside the country because the stronger players have been brought up in a cricket culture which has been lacking in Italy.
“All the squad are focused on the nation and we all want to help the country progress and develop players of the future. We are all 100 per cent behind the project and hopefully we can help create that cricket culture in Italy for years to come.”
n Italy started the tournament strongly following up a nine wicket win over Oman in the opening match with an eight run win over the USA, but suffered defeat in their third match, losing by two wickets loss Ireland.