Pavel Flroin, a bodyguard turned amateur cricketer from Transylvania, Romania has become an internet sensation due to his odd bowling technique, but stands by his unorthodox style.
A video of Florin playing in the European Cricket League for Cluj Cricket Club against France’s Dreux on Tuesday has been watched hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter and garnered hundreds of comments.
The 40-year-old, who took up cricket at the age of 32, is featuring in the first edition of the 10-over eight-team European tournament which includes sides from the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.
The clip was uploaded by Fox Cricket on their Twitter page and the initial reactions were frivolous, with many commenting on the oddity of the bowling action and insinuating that anyone could play cricket if the standard was this low.
Reaction on the social media platform varied from mickey-taking to support for Florin, a fitness fanatic who says he works as a bodyguard and picked up the game only in his 30s.
But once the cricket fraternity rallied to show the amateur cricketer support, the voices of ridicule were drowned out by praise for Florin. Additionally, the obscure European Cricket League got the spotlight and support from cricket fans globally with calls to grow the game increasing.
Flroin himself was unperturbed.
“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 earlier in May, the Romanian said his role model was South African AB de Villiers and revealed his top score was 36 in a league match for Cluj.
Asked if he had ever been a hero for his team, Florin said: “I drove 500km during night time for nine straight hours just to reach the match in the morning. I stayed 14 overs on the ground and scored 34 runs not out.
“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.”
The Romanians lost their third and final pool stage fixture to Dreux, based to the west of Paris, by 95 runs, a result which means they must settle for a place in the second-tier ‘minor’ semi-finals held on Friday.
Two ‘major’ semi-finals also take place at the end of the week, as well as the final, in the Spanish town of La Manga.
Here’s a look at how Twitterati rallied to celebrate the Romanian cricketer.
(with AFP inputs)