Danish international player and high-performance coach Freddie Klokker has suggested the inclusion of a European XI in the Irish Interprovincial Championship, Ireland’s domestic first-class tournament.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview on the Emerging Cricket Podcast, aired July 3rd, the former Derbyshire and Warwickshire wicketkeeper-bat was strongly in favour of creating new links and opportunities in for young European players in the longer formats.
The looming departure of the UK from the European Union is likely to raise barriers for European players hoping to gain access to the MCC Young Cricketers Programme, with the expectation that visas will be required for European citizens to work in the UK, which may dissuade the MCC from signing overseas talent. Klokker, himself a graduate of the MCC Young Cricketers programme, was disappointed by this scenario.
“I think it’s a great shame that they are trying to rule out the European players from coming over. When I first started at the Young Cricketers, half the team was all (non-British) European, because they were all trying to come in [to the English County system].
“For them not to have the same opportunities today is a real shame because everyone learned so much,” Klokker remarked.
Having gone on to represent both Derbyshire and Warwickshire in County cricket, Klokker was in no doubt that several of his Danish teammates would benefit significantly from similar experiences, including current captain Hamid Shah, saying “He would develop so much under a 2nd XI or an academy in England”.
Whilst ties between European nations and the MCC are unlikely to be cut off completely, Klokker was keen to explore new avenues, calling on fellow European nations to “Come out and see if they can think outside the box”.
Klokker, who made his Denmark debut at the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada at the age of 18, went on to suggest new ways to help develop European talent, including a European XI included in both the Euro T20 Slam, and the Irish First-Class competition:
“We see all these T20, you know, Ireland, Scotland and Holland, maybe that could be a way in for the best Associate players.”
“We could open the market into Ireland, why not try and get some European players into their First-Class system? Are there enough good players to make a squad and have an extra First-Class team in Ireland? Or if there is half a squad already in Ireland, and then supply them with players from Associate nations.”
Klokker was particularly supportive of playing longer formats:
“It’s just as important playing the (50-over) World Cricket League as the T20, because you just get better cricketers when they have an understanding of the longer game.
“I learned through the longer game what my game was, I had more time. I could bat for more time and work out in the last half an hour how to play on this wicket. In T20, you don’t have the time to develop your own game,” the Dane said.
Asked about the potential to integrate more European players into the Irish Interprovincial setup, Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth was positive but saw it as a long-term opportunity, citing financial considerations as the major barrier.
“Could we see a European side play in that [the Interprovincial series]? Absolutely, don’t see why not, it’s certainly food for thought for the future. I think the long term would maybe more interesting to look at, in the short-term I think finance would be a great problem. The reality is for a team to play in a competition in Ireland it would be extremely expensive.”
“With regards to the [Euro] T20 Slam, I think once we get something off the ground, we’d be very pleased to look at any other players in Europe. Certainly, the intention was to play some overseas players, and with that some associate member players as well, so we’d be open to other European players when it finally gets on its feet,” Holdsworth told Emerging Cricket.
Holdsworth also explained the governing body was in the process of introducing fourth team Munster into all formats across Ireland’s top flight competitions and his would also need to be taken into account when considering future plans.
During the interview, Klokker also spoke about several of his career highlights, his friendly rivalry with Jersey’s Jonty Jenner, and how Danish cricket can move up to the next level.
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