JOE SCUDERI is chasing the unlikely cricketing double of the Lancashire League and the European Cup this summer.

As well as hoping to guide Colne to their first league crown since 1959, the South Australian will also be spearheading Italy's bid for European glory in July. Italian parentage will allow Suderi to make his international bow in Holland with a place in the 2003 World Cup via the ICC Trophy the ambitious target.

"I have an Italian passport so I had an inkling I might be eligible," he revealed.

"I got in touch with them and when they confirmed I would be eligible they said they would like me to play.

"I am hoping to be involved over the next four years and it will be something a bit different."

Scuderi admits he knows little about the strength of cricket in Italy, other than that they are being coached by Zimbabwe's David Houghton and have a couple of Italian-based Sri Lankans playing for them.

"I am really going into it quite blind and don't know what to expect," he added.

"I am not expecting them to be world beaters but as the only first-class cricketer I will hopefully strengthen their team and try and set them on the right track.

"They have got David Houghton coaching them so they are pretty keen to get it up and running."

Helping Colne mount a serious title tilt might be easier than masterminding Italian success and Scuderi's signing makes the Horsfield club likely contenders - even though prolific batsman Ben Johnson has given him a difficult act to follow. Scuderi spent several successful seasons as Nelson's professional before having a breather last season.

The all-rounder's return to the Lancashire League scene was ruined by the weather last Sunday but he felt Colne were in a winning position with Accrington on 115-5 - Scuderi claiming 2-24 from 15 overs including the wicket of professional Ryan Campbell. "We have got plenty of depth with three or four good first teamers playing with the twos at the minute," he added.

"They are putting pressure on the players in the first team and if we do the right things we should be up there."

Colne will be looking to get things moving in this weekend's double header with tomorrow's visit of East Lancashire being followed by a trip to Rawstenstall on Sunday.

"East Lancashire were one of the strong teams last year so they will be one of the teams to beat and Rawtenstall have Keith Arthurton so they will be two difficult games," predicted Scuderi.

Tomorrow's game against East Lancs will bring together Scuderi and South Australian team-mate Brad Young.

Scuderi said: "I think with his type of bowling Brad will get a lot of wickets in these conditions. He is very accurate and turns it quite well and he likes to get on with it with the bat as well." Scuderi is less impressed with the new rules, however. "When it's wet they favour the team batting first so much and considering the climate they play in it's weird, especially getting rid of the fielding circle," he said.

"It provides the opportunity for the fielding team to spread out the field and encourages slogging, especially if you lose 25 overs.

"Hopefully it will be a good summer and it won't affect it that much but if it rains the first team batting gets 55 overs and the team batting second nowhere near as much and no reduced target.

"They said the players wanted the new rules but I haven't met one yet who does."

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