About the tournament
By John Milton - 10 March 1999

From 1 to 4 April the second South American Championship will take place in Lima Peru, with teams from Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and a Guyana XI. In December 1997 Argentina beat Chile, Peru and Brazil to win the first South American Championship, which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Cricket was brought to South America over a hundred years ago by British companies, which were responsible for much of the early industrialization in the continent, it but failed to really catch on. Cricket was probably strongest in Argentina in the 1920s and 1930s, before the Second World War and Perón's nationalization of the British-owned utilities. During this period, there up to 200,000 British in the country, and the Argentine team gave visiting MCC teams a good run for their money. After a period of decline, some 20 years ago the Argentine cricket authorities invested in teaching cricket to Argentina youngsters, and this decision has paid dividends. Indeed, the current Argentine team, which regularly competes in the mini-World Cup, is entirely made up of native Argentines, most of whom have no Anglo background. Spanish is, of course, the main cricketing language.

Cricket is much stronger in Argentina, where some five clubs regularly play in both Saturday and Sunday leagues in the Buenos Aires area, than the other South American countries. In Brazil, cricket is played only in São Paulo and Brasília; in Venezuela just in Caracas; in Peru just in Lima; and in Chile only in Santiago.

In these three countries, the great majority of players are exiles from cricket-playing countries: members of the consular service, multinational executives, teachers, drifters, and an increasing number of Asian businessmen. One of the main problems is to get young cricketers. Unlike in Argentina, where several British-style Grammar Schools play cricket,cricket is not played at any schools in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru or Argentina.

Hopefully this tournament will give impetus for cricket in South America, which, with the ICC very interested in expansion, could be a future growth area.

And there is one great advantage of playing cricket in Lima: it never rains!

Contributed by The Management (