A Transylvanian cricketer whose bowling technique initially attracted online mockery has been hailed as a hero and received backing from Shane Warne and Jofra Archer after he said his love of the game trumped any criticism.
Pavel Florin, a professional bodyguard by day and player-president of Romania’s Cluj Cricket Club in his spare time, became an overnight sensation after a video of him bowling against French club Dreux in the European Cricket League on Tuesday went viral.
Some initial reaction to his distinctive action – and the pace and accuracy of his deliveries – was labelled as “snobbish” and damaging to the development of the game in emerging cricket nations.
Florin told the European Cricket League: “Maybe someone says my bowling is not beautiful or not effective, but I don’t care, because I love cricket.
“It’s not beautiful, I know, everybody says it, but I’m a slow bowler.”
The 40-year-old allrounder, who took up playing cricket at the age of 32, said in an interview in May he had a top score of 36 for his club and once took two wickets in a three-over spell.
Tuesday’s efforts with the ball at La Manga in Spain, where the inaugural ECL is being held, did not result in a wicket, but the one over he bowled was relatively economical in the shortened 10-over format of the game, going for just 13 runs.
Florin, batting down the order, did not get to the crease as Cluj posted 69-5 off their 10 overs in response to Dreux’s 164-6. He did not bat or bowl in the two other games Cluj have played so far, both of which were lost.
Asked how he thought the tournament, dubbed “the Champions League of European cricket” on its website, was going so far, Florin said: “Not very good now because we lost three matches. But we earn other things – good experience for us and for our country.”
Florin’s indefatigable love of the game drew admiration from former and current professional players, with England’s Jofra Archer offering his “respect” to the 40-year-old and the New Zealand bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas saying “we should be celebrating this amazing achievement”.
Shane Warne also offered his support to Florin and the tournament, saying he would be happy to lend a helping hand in the future, while former Australia coach Darren Lehmann urged Florin to keep going and said, “Love the way you love the game”.
Cricket is not widely played in Romania, but the country was granted affiliate status in 2013 and became an associate member of the ICC in 2017.
The ECL, which says it is “committed to developing cricket in Europe”, is in its first edition, and features eight teams, including clubs from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, playing a 10-over version of the game.