ICELAND’S NATIONAL CRICKET TEAM
CRICKET IN THE LAND OF FIRE AND ICE, When the name Iceland comes to mind,one’s first thoughts are large tundra plains and chuncks of glaciers. A country known as the land of fire and Ice it’s hard to belive that cricket has found a spot in this beautiful land.
Mo Zubair of Cricktalk20,got a chance to speak exclusively with one of the passionate individuals who has been leading the charge of getting cricket it’s much deserved recognition,Iceland’s only cricket writer,broadcaster and the secretary of Iceland Cricket Association Mr Kit Harris.
Tell us a little about the history of cricket in Iceland?
Cricket was born in Iceland, as recounted by several of the Icelandic sagas, in the early tenth century. The Vikings called it knattlekir, but it shared many similarities with today’s game. It was just a lot more violent. Then the Victorians came along and ruined it. Sorry, I mean civilised it. That’s the word the British used for stuff they ruined. The British armed forces played a wartime match in Iceland in 1944. Modern Icelandic cricket was brought to the country, not by expats, but by an Icelandic man called Ragnar Kristinsson and his friends.
We have heard about the volcanic ashes, tell us more about it?
The two main clubs in Iceland are based in the two largest urban areas: the well-known capital city Reykjavik, and the boring and uneventful town of Kopavogur. Each year they play a five-match winter series. The trophy is a replica Ashes urn, mounted in solidified volcanic lava, and it contains ashes from every volcanic eruption in Iceland since Ragnar brought cricket home to the island in 1999.
You have a six a side tournament, that’s played under the midnight sun, I believe nowhere on the planet is there such a typeof event, tell us how is that like?
Actually it’s the first time we’re doing this. We have had a couple of six-a-side tournaments in recent years, but this year we felt it would be fun to invite teams from other countries, and to schedule the final game to finish at midnight on the Summer Solstice, when the sunset is at three minutes past midnight.
What sort of development structure have you put in place to ensure the development of cricket in Iceland?
Thanks to the generosity and support of the r/Cricket community at Reddit, we have a junior programme up and running, and we have also been able to play international cricket (against Swizterland, Hungary, Czechia and Malta) for the last 18 months or so. So we are now developing at the top and the bottom end of our structure.
Last year the first-ever turf wicket ground was built and it was inaugurated by the prime minister, from the look of things the futurelooks bright for Iceland cricket, does this mean you will be inviting more teams to play?
Well, it wasn’t a turf pitch. It’s unlikely that a turf pitch could ever survive, let alone thrive, in the volcanic tundra of Iceland. But we started working with Flicx, our official pitch partner, to bring over a specialist artificial pitch that can cope with the difficult terrain we have. It works really well and it has completely transformed the standard of cricket played over here. We have had 19 teams visit us since 2000, and we hope to bring several more to compete in this summer’s Summer Solstice Sixes. We’re also hosting the first Indian team to tour Iceland.
Who are the stars players of your national cricket team?
Everyone’s a star, just for being out here, playing cricket on this freezing rock in the middle of the ocean.
To date what is the greatest achievement of Iceland cricket?At home, we’re really proud of creating the northernmost cricket ground in the world. That is quite a record to have. Away from these shores, you’d have to say that beating Switzerland in our first ever international game was pretty awesome.
Where do you see Iceland cricket in the next five years?
The crunch question is whether we will have the eight club teams necessary for us to be admitted to the ICC. The rule of thumb, as all club cricketers know, is that you need a group of 22 players to be able to get a full XI on the park each week. Last year, 47 people turned out to play cricket domestically, and like I say we have the two clubs going well. We’re hoping to add a third club this summer. Eight seems a long way off, right now. Countries like China find it quite easy to meet this requirement. It’s a hell of a lot harder for us, because only 350,000 people live here. Our entire population is slightly smaller than that of Aurora in Colorado, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, Stoke-on-Trent in England, Okara in Pakistan. It’s taken 20 years for our participation numbers to double. By the time we meet the ICC’s threshold for membership, Denmark could be a test-playing nation. And what a horrible thought that is.
Find Us On