24 May 2024

Alessandro Bonora - cricketer

All-rounder played for Italy in almost 100 matches 

Alessandro Bonora served as Italy's captain for four years
Alessandro Bonora served as
Italy's captain for four years
The cricketer Alessandro Bonora, who made 99 appearances for Italy’s national team between 2000 and 2016, was born on this day in 1978 in Bordighera, a small town on the coast of Liguria.

Bonara, a right-handed batsman and medium-fast bowler, captained Italy on 37 occasions, notably in a 2011 World Cricket League event when he was the tournament’s top scorer and achieved his career-best innings of 124 not out against Oman.

He was also part of the Italian team that took part in the 2013 World Twenty20 qualifying competition in the United Arab Emirates, the highest level of competition in which the team has taken part.

Bonara also played some club cricket in Italy, living in Rome for more than five years and turning out for Lazio Cricket Club.

Although born in Italy, Bonara grew up and learned to play cricket in South Africa, where his parents emigrated when he was two years old, building a new life in Cape Town.

As a youngster, while he counted himself as a Juventus fan in terms of football, his cricket focus was on the South Africa team and he did not know of the existence of the Italian national team until a team-mate at his club told him.

The team-mate, the Netherlands international Roland Lefebvre, put him in touch with Simone Gambino, the president of the Italian Cricket Federation, who invited him to Rome.

The Federation introduced him to the Lazio club and helped him pursue his career interests in journalism and advertising at the same time as playing.

Bonora was born in Italy but brought up in South Africa
Bonora was born in Italy but
brought up in South Africa
He made his debut in a European Championship Division One match in July 2000 against Scotland, played in the grounds of Bothwell Castle in Lanarkshire.

Italy lost, but Bonora was second top scorer with 30 runs. He was one of only three Italian-born players in the team, which included two South Africans, two Australians, two Sri Lankans, a Pakistani and an Englishman, all of whom satisfied one of several means of qualifying for Italy.

Among his career highlights were captaining the team between 2010 and 2013, leading Italy to promotion to Division Three of the World Cricket League in 2010 via a tournament played at club grounds around Bologna and helping them reach the final qualifying competition for the 2013 World Twenty20.

His colleagues in that team included some of the best cricketers to represent Italy, including the former Australia Test player Michael di Venuto and Gareth Berg, who played at the top level of county cricket in England.

Bonora eventually returned to South Africa, continuing his career in journalism and later becoming involved with web design. He now works for Planet Sport, the parent company of leading sports websites such as Football 365, TEAMtalk and Planet Football.

Bonora made his debut for Italy in the grounds of historic Bothwell Castle in Scotland
Bonora made his debut for Italy in the grounds
of historic Bothwell Castle in Scotland
He retired from international cricket in 2016, having scored more than 1,800 runs and taken 23 wickets as an occasional bowler.

Although organised cricket in Italy is a relatively recent addition to the country's sporting landscape, the first mention of a cricket match played in Italy is more than 200 years ago, in 1793, when the British Admiral Horatio Nelson is reputed to have organised a game on some open ground by the harbour in Naples. 

Exactly 100 years later, Sir James Edward Spensley founded the Genoa Cricket and Football Club, which was followed soon afterwards by similar combined clubs in Milan and Turin. 

Cricket largely disappeared under Fascism but resurfaced after World War II. Associazione Italiana Cricket (AIC) was founded in 1980 and was recognised by the international Cricket Council in 1984 as the first affiliate member.

The AIC was recognised by the Italian government as a  national sporting body and became the Federazione Cricket Italiana in 1997.

Bordighera is a beautiful town on Italy's riviera
Bordighera is a beautiful
town on Italy's riviera
Travel tip:

Bordighera is a small, picturesque town on Italy’s Riviera, just 20km (12 miles) from Italy’s western border with France. It is famous for its flower industry and was a popular holiday destination for the English during Queen Victoria’s reign. Being situated where the Maritime Alps meet the sea, it enjoys the benefit of a climate that invariably produces mild winters. It was the first town in Europe to grow date palms. Its seafront road, the Lungomare Argentina - named in honour of a visit to the town by Evita Peron in 1947 - is 2.3km (1.4 miles) long and is said to be the longest promenade on the Italian Riviera. Queen Margherita of Savoy - wife of Umberto I - had a winter palace, Villa Margherita, in the town.  Bordighera was the scene of a meeting in 1941 between Italy’s Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, and his Spanish counterpart, Francisco Franco, to discuss Spain’s entry to World War Two on the side of Italy and Germany, although in the end Spain remained nominally neutral.

Castel Gandolfo enjoys spectacular views over Lago Albano in the hills south of Rome
Castel Gandolfo enjoys spectacular views
over Lago Albano in the hills south of Rome
Travel tip:

Lazio Cricket Club’s official headquarters is in Castel Gandolfo, a town that overlooks Lago Albano from a panoramic position in the hills south of Rome. Castel Gandolfo is one of the towns within the regional park of the Castelli Romani. It owes its fame to being the home of an Apostolic Palace, built in the 17th century by Carlo Maderno on behalf of Urban VIII, that was traditionally the incumbent pope’s summer residence, with commanding views over the lake. The palace ceased to be a papal residence in 2016 at the behest of Pope Francis, and visitors can now go inside and enjoy a guided tour of the papal apartments and grand reception rooms.

Also on this day:

1494: The birth of painter Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo

1761: The birth Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

1751: The birth of Charles Emmanuel IV, King of Sardinia

1847: The birth of inventor Alessandro Cruto

1949: The birth of film producer Aurelio de Laurentiis

1961: The birth of TV journalist Ilaria Alpi

1981: The birth of TV chef Simone Rugiati


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