Brazil's seventh annual T20 National T20 Championship, held at the scenic HSBC ground in Curitiba on November 5th and 6th, was the biggest one yet, and possibly the largest cricket event the country has ever held.
The previous six editions featured representative teams from three states, Paraná, São Paulo and Distrito Federal (Brasília), but this year included Rio de Janeiro, which has returned to the national league after a 16 year absence.
Under sunny skies the four teams put on a great show, portions of which were aired on local TV stations, in addition to coverage in local papers. For São Paulo it was business as usual, as they won for the fifth straight time, though not before being tested in all of their matches. Newcomers Rio de Janeiro picked up two wins and finished in second place, thanks to fine performances from an excellent group of spirited players. Brasília (and Brazil) stalwart Daniel Miziara was easily the pick of the bowlers, picking up 9 wickets in 10 overs, while Paraná (and also Brazil) veteran Viren Narula had a great tournament with the bat, scoring 183 runs in 3 innings, including two not outs. São Paulo's Matt Featherstone had the highest single score, smashing 101* in just 40 balls (8x6, 10x4) against Rio de Janeiro.
Selectors for the national team now have plenty of talent to choose from, thanks primarily to the efforts of the Rio de Janeiro (Carioca) team to unearth cricketers in that city. Skipper Rob Wallace, for example, pulled his team from the brink against Paraná with a superb, match-winning 64, while opening bat Will Symington easily looked the part, carrying a 44 average throughout. In addition to having a large number of Brazilians taking part, several players from the other teams shone in their national league debuts, which leaves the domestic scene stronger than ever.
Although the league doesn't resume until March, the success of this event is leading organizers to plan another T20 at that time, also in Curitiba. In the meantime, cricket in Rio de Janeiro is taking off, with a well publicized match (thanks to the efforts of the British Consulate General and the British and Commonwealth Society of Rio de Janeiro) to be held at the Rio Cricket Club in Niterói on December 4.