Champions Trophy to inspire new breed of Welsh stars

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Dubai [UAE], May 8 (ANI): Former England spinner Robert Croft believes the ICC Champions Trophy return to Cardiff is the perfect opportunity for a new breed of Welsh cricket fans to become a major part of the sport. The Glamorgan head coach will see his county's Swalec Stadium used for four matches in the tournament this summer, with England and New Zealand the pick of the fixtures for Croft. Cardiff will also host a semi-final just as they did in 2013 when the country welcomed a plethora of new fans into the game, while also showcasing the best teams in the world. And with the standard of one-day cricket continuing to go up and up, Croft is confident that this could be the best Champions Trophy yet, with no score seemingly safe as teams continue to chase high totals. "It's amazing for cricket lovers, but for sports lovers in Wales as well. Everybody has the opportunity to get a flavour of top-class cricket and it's fantastic to be able to provide that at the SWALEC," he said. "The Champions Trophy has produced some incredible cricket, we've seen how dynamic teams are with the bat and ball and in the field, and we're seeing a lot of younger fans coming in and watching the 50-over format. "All sports lovers want to see the game moving faster and faster and with this competition in particular there is no settle-in period, players are going hard for the full 50 overs and that should provide some terrific entertainment. "You can't take your eyes off it because it's ever-changing, and if you turn your back then you miss a six so it's gripping and bridges the gap for the purists and the Twenty20 lovers." While all countries have taken the 50-over game by storm, Croft believes England are undoubtedly at the forefront of the revolution. That includes making the highest score in One Day International cricket history, with 444/3 coming from the bat against Pakistan in Nottingham just last year - with a staggering 8.88 runs coming from each over. Now, Croft is backing England to once again be a force to be reckoned with in their home competition, a trophy they have yet to lift since its inception in 1998. He added: "England have got a fantastic chance, there's a real exciting blend of cricket being played. They play attacking cricket and are a team with confidence, aging and peaking with maturity, and have found a no-fear brand of cricket that seems to be working well for them. "They've got a lot of boxes ticked, so long as they put it together at the right time and deal with the pressure that comes with playing at home, then they have a very, very good chance." In Glamorgan in particular, the legacy of the Champions Trophy four years ago is still heavily felt, with a T20I against South Africa also set for the county this June. And for chief executive Hugh Morris, the tournament undoubtedly marks one of the highlights of the year, not only for the county, but for the country of Wales as a whole. "We're very much looking forward to it, we were very fortunate to host the competition four years ago so to have it back just four years later is a lot of excitement for us," he said. "It's one of the premier cricket tournaments in the world and we're delighted to help host it. "One of the legacies we gained was having lots of new fans come through our doors, and with the variety of teams that competed we were able to connect to the community an awful lot, throughout Cardiff and South Wales, and that's been a massive success story for us. "We saw some great cricket and some really good crowds in Cardiff and we want to build on that, the impact it's had on cricket in the city has been important and we want to make the most of that." (ANI)