IN the city where the King of Beers originated, a passion for cricket is brewing.

And it is all being done with a Colchester flavour.

Historically, the Czech Republic has not exactly been regarded as a hotbed for cricket.

But Colchester's Joe Foster, who grew up a few minutes away from Castle Park, is certainly playing his part in changing all of that.

The 32-year-old, who has been living in the Czech Republic for the last five years, is playing for Budejovice Barracudas CC, in their inaugural Czech National T20 League division two season.

The Barracudas, who are based in Budejovice where Budwiser beer originated, are the third city in the Czech Republic to have a team.

They recently won their first T20 division two game, defeating Prague Barbarians Visigoths in Prague.

And thanks in part to YouTube, where T10 games have been shown, the global recognition of the league and sport in the country is rising.

So how did Foster, born and bred in Colchester, end up playing cricket in the Czech Republic?

"It started last summer with the World Cup really," he said.

"I hadn't played since I was in Colchester as a colt, back in 2003 or 2004.

"But I'd always follow Essex and England and basically, anything that was on the TV and last summer sparked the interest in me to keeping playing.

"I came across a Facebook group here in the city, which I joined in.

"At the start of this year, one of the members said they were applying for the league for the first time ever.

"We then had all of the restrictions but then in mid-April, they were lifted and we were able to play outside again with groups of ten people, so we had our first practices around then."

Matches are quite a commitment for Barracudas, who play their home games more than two hours away in Prague.

And unlike in Essex, there are no grass wickets - they are all laid with clay or concrete underneath.

Aside from a few ex-pats from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or England, the vast majority of the league's players are of South Asian origin.

It is the big driving force of the culture of Czech cricket - but the country are nevertheless keen for the popularity of the sport to grow.

Czech Republic are currently ranked just outside the world top-50 in Twenty20 cricket - but are aiming to go up the rankings.

"There's not that many Czech players in the league but they do have a cricket academy that goes into the high schools once or twice a week," said former St Helena School pupil Foster.

"They have between 2-3,000 students between the ages of nine to 16 playing weekly and a lot of that is Czech students who they want to bring through eventually.

"It's tough to define the standard of cricket out here but socially, it's quite similar.

"There's beer and pies on the side and it's more relaxed and social than the Essex League or something like that.

"My family have been watching all of the games via the YouTube streaming service and they say it's somewhere between Colchester seconds and thirds.

"Some of the teams have been established for over 25 years whereas two or three teams like ours, it's their first-ever season in the league.

"There's a definite gap of ability - there are some very good players who play for the bigger teams and then there are people who are very social and enjoy playing for the fun of it.

"Budejovice Barracudas is probably the smartest team ever.

"They're all doing their PhDs and post-doctorate qualifications in Biology and other things, as they're all people working at the university."

Foster's involvement is not the only Colchester influence within the Budejovice Barracudas set-up.

Joe's father, Colchester and East Essex CC vice-president and long-term wicket-keeper Colin Foster, helped to send some kit from Castle Park to boost the Czech team.

"It's been really nice to have had some support from Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club," said Joe, who works in the Czech Republic as programme director of 3E Outdoors and lives there with his wife and family.

"There's not much disposable income out here for us to pay for things like kit.

"My dad had finished playing a few years ago so he sent some things over like gloves, new pairs of pads, a very old bat which we haven't used! "Just having that much more gear is very useful even for practices, so it's been really good."

Foster, who regards his fielding as his main cricketing strength, is clearly enjoying playing his part in raising the profile of cricket in the Czech Republic.

Soon after joining the Barracudas earlier this year, he was appointed their practice co-ordinator helping organise aspects such as fielding drills, proper warm-ups and net practice.

He added: "I'm looking forward to hopefully playing out here for a number of years.

"It would be really good to witness the profile of Czech Republic cricket rise, in that time."