Unlikely cricket sensation wins big-name fans – and his fair share of critics

Pavel Florin says he loves cricket – despite only starting to play it eight years ago.

Pavel Florin says he loves cricket – despite only starting to play it eight years ago. Photo: Twitter

A 40-year-old Transylvanian bodyguard has become the world’s latest cricket sensation.

A video of Pavel Florin playing in the European Cricket League against France’s Dreux on Tuesday has been watched hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter, drawing hundreds of comments – including from Australian great Shane Warne.

Florin, who started playing cricket only eight years ago, plays for Cluj Cricket Club in the first edition of the 10-over eight-team European tournament, which includes sides from the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

“Maybe someone says my bowling is not beautiful or not effective but I don’t care, because I love cricket,” he told the European Cricket League.

In an interview with the competition’s website in May, the Romanian said his role models were South African AB de Villiers (“I try to copy him”) and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (“very good bowler and fielder and reliable batsman”).

Florin revealed his top score was 36 in a league match for Cluj. He also said he once drove 500 kilometres overnight to play a match the next day.

“I stayed 14 overs on the ground and scored 34 runs not out,” he said.

“I would not call it a hero act, but it is the match that gave me confidence that I can be a good cricket player.”

It’s fair to say that Florin’s bowling technique is less than orthodox, and he has attracted some scathing criticism. But there’s also been plenty of support for his dedication and enthusiasm – including from a handful of famous Australians.

Spin king Warne weighed in with congratulations. In response to a tweet from Melbourne Renegades bowling coach Dimi Mascarenhas, Warne even offered to help out at next year’s tournament.

Florin’s Cluj Cricket Club plays its next ECL match on Wednesday night (5pm AEST), against Italy’s JCC Brescia. Both teams occupy bottom spot in their respective pools.

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