Cricket appears historically in Corfu, which was under the British domination, on the 23rd of April 1823 with a game between officers of the British Navy and the Garrison. From then on, only twelve years needed for the Corfiots to learn the game and form two local sides and start taking up the British. The one was consisted of players of minor and medium rang and named Small and the other one was consisted of players of a higher rang and named Large.
On the departure of the British from Corfu in 1864 there evolved two local clubs – the Gongakis company and the Camvissis club. In 1893 however owing to a dearth of players these clubs merged to become the Gymnastikos club, one of the eldest clubs in Greece, the sole opponents being frequent visiting ships of the Royal Navy. In 1923 the Ergatikos club was formed and in 1936 it opened its doors to members of the aristocracy and became known as the Byron C.C. in honour of the famous poet. High peaks in the period before the First World War were the 1904 season with the commander in chief of the Mediterranean fleet with 30 – 40 ships attending the cricket festival and the 1932 season when the Prince of Wales on the battleship Queen Elizabeth and a total of 45 ships were present.
After the Second World War, cricket has survived due to the excellent publicity made by the British media (BBC, Daily Telegraph etc)
The Times of 14th December 1859 reported: Corfu has this year been visited by an extraordinary number of fashionable tourists, politicians, artistic and sporting. The later are the most numerous. This is still true 150 years later.
British Airways also contributed at the perpetuation of cricket and clubs such as the Eton Ramblers, the Cricketer XI, the old Wellingtonians, the Lord’s Taverners (immortalised on film) and the cricket Society frequently toured Corfu.
In 1996, British Airways sponsored a trip for a Greek side to go on an overseas tour for the first time and after that trip, Greek teams started visiting England to play cricket matches.
The great writer on cricket, R.A. Roberts, once wrote about Corfu: “No cricketer’s education is complete until, besides Australia, has visited this island”.
In 1997 the Hellenic Cricket Federation (H.C.F.) was established which is an affiliate member of I.C.C.
The Hellenic Cricket Federation officially has appeared in the ICC European Championships in 1999, hosting and winning the tournament. From then on, the Greek National teams participates in every European Championships with last success on 2009 where the Senior National team gained with 5 to 5 wins the 1rst place at the ICC European Championship Division 5 and promoted to Division 2. From 1999 until now HCF has host successfully three ICC European Championships.
Annual celebration of Spirit of Cricket
The spirit of cricket revives every year in Corfu at the International Schools Cricket Tournament. Students from across the globe – Australia, India, South Africa, England, Qatar, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece etc, share the culture and the natural beauty of the Ionian, a different way of life, passion for cricket and a celebration of cultural diversity and humanity. The Tournament is devoted to the spirit of cricket and under the philosophy of fair play, respect, diversity and acceptance.
Over 60’s Tournament
From August 2013 and every year Hellenic Cricket Federation organises the Over 60’s Tournament in Corfu with the participation of Retired Cricket players from all over the world.
The Greek domestic Championships comprises of Indoor and Outdoor competitions. The indoor competitions is played between November and March whilst the Outdoor competition is played between May and October. There are clubs in Greece which participate in both the Indoor and Outdoor competitions and are divided into Senior Mens, Women, U17, U15 boys, U15 girls and juniors.
The Hellenic Cricket Federation has done important steps into junior development. Through the programme “Cricket goes to school” and after special permission from the Ministry of Education, cricket every year is taught to nearly all the primary and secondary schools of Corfu.
The last years have been made important steps of female cricket development. Women’s teams participate in the domestic Championships and from 2013 they will start visiting foreign countries, playing friendly games, gaining experiences and strengthening their relationship.