BBL - Renegades v Sixers
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 29: Ben Manenti of the Sixers celebrates after dismissing Sam Harper of the Renegades during the Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Sydney Sixers at Metricon Stadium, on December 29, 2020, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
BBL - Renegades v Sixers

While far from being known as a cricketing nation, Italy has their eyes on a qualification for the 2024 men's T20 World Cup, attempting to bolster their side with some experienced talent.

The T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier is set to be held in Scotland in July, with Italy featuring in the seven-team format, where just two qualifying spots are available.

Ranked 32nd in the world in T20's, the Italians aren't considered a massive threat for those in the tournament, though are trying to bring in the experience heads of Spencer Johnson, Wayne Madsen and Ben Manenti.

Johnson starred for the Brisbane Heat in a breakout Big Bash season, taking nine wickets in 10 matches throughout the tournament. Though the 27-year-old plays first-class cricket for Victoria, Johnson recently obtained his Italian passport and is expected to feature for Italy in July.

The Italians will be led by captain-coach Gareth Berg, who told ESPNcricinfo that Johnson was going to be a vital inclusion for the side.

"He's dead keen," Berg said.

"He's going to be a huge boost for us. It's always nice to have someone that can bowl close to 150 clicks at that level. He's had quite a tough time with injuries but he's coming back pretty strong now. He's raring to get involved in July."

Berg, an English-Italian who was born in Cape Town, understands that some pundits may not be pleased with professional cricketers being included in the qualifying squad but dismissed the concerns.
"But at the end of the day, they all have the entitlement to come in and play for us through their passports or through their bloodlines," Berg said.
"I'm more than happy for them to represent the national team.
"It's not like we're throwing cash at them or anything like that. They are coming to play for the love of the blue blood, coming to play for the Azzurri. As soon as I mention it, they're straight on board with it and willing to help out. Yes, we have pros available, but we also have our local players that are pushing for spots. It's heartwarming for me and the guys working with me that these guys are pushing themselves really hard."
The Europe Qualifier is set to kick off on July 20-28 in Edinburgh, contested between  Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jersey and Scotland.