Andy aims to transform Italy’s sporting future

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Woolpit's Andrew Northcote  is aiming to help Italy reach the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Woolpit's Andrew Northcote is aiming to help Italy reach the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup
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Andy Northcote has set his sights on revolutionising cricket in Italy by guiding his adopted nation to next year’s Twenty20 World Cup.

The South African-born Moreton Hall Preparatory School games teacher has a chance of starring at next year’s tournament in Bangladesh, but must first navigate his way through the pre-qualifying tournament being hosted by the UAE, commencing next Friday.

The 16 nations have been split into two groups with Italy being drawn alongside Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, Namibia, Uganda, USA and hosts UAE in Group A while Group B is made up of Afghanistan, Bermuda, Denmark, Netherlands, Nepal, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Scotland

And despite acknowledging the difficulty in progressing through, with the top five teams from each group entering the play-offs, with two going on to the World Cup, Northcote — who plays for East Anglian Premier Division outfit Woolpit — is fully aware of the magnitude of what it would mean to the country.

“We are fully aware of how massive a challenge it will be to reach the World Cup, but it is do able and you never know what might happen,” he said.

“To the Italian Federation it would be worth around $250,000 which would potentially revolutionise the sport back there.

“We are the type of nation who go to a tournament with hope, but that could allow us to go with real ambition.

“Just to be involved is an honour, you are treated like a king and you learn so much as a player, it is an unbelievable experience.”

Italy failed to reach the finals last year, narrowly missing out on progression from their group in Dubai, but the 29-year-old is confident the side is far better shape this time round to go that all important one step further.

“We are actually quietly confident ahead of the tournament,” he added.

“We all know the huge positive impact getting through to the World Cup would have.

“I think we are a lot stronger than last year and have moved forward, there is a lot to be positive about.”