Belgian Cricket Federation

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The Belgian Cricket Federation vzw / asbl (BCF) is an Associate Member of the International Cricket Council, a founding Member of the European Cricket Council and a Member of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee.

Operating as Cricket Belgium, the federation organizes senior and junior League cricket, selects and manages national squads at all age levels, provides coaching and coaching qualification courses, supports and assists its member clubs and places its main emphasis on junior development.

Cricket Belgium is committed to continually improving performance, opportunities and facilities; to fostering individual enjoyment and personal fulfilment at every level of the sport and to raising Belgium's ranking across all age groups in Europe and internationally.

In 2011 a major change was introduced to senior cricket with a new Twenty20 Cup leading the season and the League reduced to three divisions of a total 23 teams to accommodate the increase in BCF matches. There is also a mid-week Twenty20 competition, an annual Sixes tournament hosted by Arcadians of Ghent and an annual women's cricket tournament hosted by Royal Brussels CC at Ohain. In addition, a considerable number of touring sides add to the calendar.

Junior cricket is played at all age groups on both a league and schools basis. Several youth sides also play in the Dutch junior leagues.

National squads take part in ICC-Europe Championships, in arranged internationals against France and Germany for example and in informal and formal matches against Dutch sides. In 2011 Belgium won the 11-country Europe Division 2 T20 Championships hosted in Belgium and was promoted to Division One where it finished 7th of 12 countries a month later in Jersey and Guernsey. The Belgian Under-19s finished 7th in the ICC-Europe Division 2 Championships at the Isle of Man. A women's tournament with teams from Belgium, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands was held in Meise, Belgium, and was won by Germany.

Belgium is ranked 10th in Europe for T20 and 11th for 50-over. In 2012 it will compete against three other Division 1 countries for a place in the 50-over World Cricket League.

Did cricket begin in Belgium?[edit]

Recent research has again indicated that the sport of cricket may well have begun in Flanders, the northern part of what is now Belgium. Beginning in the 14th century, Flemish weavers and shepherds emigrated to southern England and are believed to have taken cricket with them. Flemish 'creckettes' and 'weckettes' are mentioned in the south of England in the mid-16th century, a time which coincides with a painting by the Flemish master Pieter Breugel The Elder which is said to show an early form of the game.

The first recorded cricket match in what is now Belgium pre-dates the country itself by some 16 years. This took place at Enghien, some 30 km south of Brussels, and was played by British Guards officers six days before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The Duke of Wellington attended. Commemorative matches have been played to mark the 150th and 175th anniversaries of that game.

Organized cricket[edit]

The first record of organised cricket in Belgium can be found in a painting dated 1870 and showing the opening of the Brussels Cricket Club ground by the Mayor in 1866. The current Royal Brussels CC is believed to have its roots in that club. The next club to appear was the Antwerp Football and Cricket Club founded in 1880. Early in the 20th century the football and cricket divisions of the club parted company. Today Antwerp CC is based at Rumst and is currently in the Second Division while Royal Antwerp F.C. holds position 'Number 1' on Belgian football's roll of clubs.

In the early 20th century a Belgian Cricket Federation was formed, pre-dating the current federation by some 85 years and lasting until 1942 when its chairman, Count Joseph d'Oultremont, died. A triangular tournament was played in Brussels in 1910 five years after the country's first international fixture against the Netherlands in 1905. The latter became a regular fixture for almost 70 years and for much of that time 'De Telegraaf Cup' was the trophy at stake. The large and ornate cup was unfortunately stolen when a museum exhibition was being dismantled in the 1980s.

Until the late 1960s both Brussels and Antwerp played in the Dutch leagues but from the 1950s more clubs were formed in Belgium and in 1990 the Belgian Cricket Federation was re-established. Belgian leagues began in 1991 with one division, expanded to two in 1995, three in 2000 and four in 2007. In 2011 a T20 Cup was introduced and the League reduced to three divisions again in order to accommodate the additional T20 matches.