Iceland has the weakest cricket team, but on social media we act like we know it all – Kit Harris | ICF – 144


J – How is the cricket culture in Iceland and what is it like growing up in this part of the world with respect to this sport?

Things here have changed a lot since we began playing cricket in 1999. The membership of Krikketsamband Íslands was originally one hundred per cent Icelandic. Gradually, we picked up economic migrants from cricket-playing countries. They’re always surprised and usually delighted, to find that cricket’s played here. More recently, we’ve picked up refugees too. But the native-Icelandic contingent of the club has dwindled fast. In fact, it’s now just Ólafur Briem at Kópavogur.

J – How has your experience been so far covering, writing and commentating on Cricket?

I never forget that the work I do is a dream job for so many people, and the first ball of a professional match is always a delicious moment. A real feeling of bliss and contentment. Having said that, it’s a gig economy, and getting the next assignment can be exasperating and stressful. There’s just no job security at all, apart from the lucky few who have permanent contracts. Actually, ‘lucky’ isn’t really the right word. People don’t get permanent contracts through luck, they get them by being very good at what they do.

J – Are you enjoying the role of handling Iceland Cricket’s social media handle? 

Yes, it’s great fun. I have a specific brief to ‘be Icelandic’. I’ve basically created a character that represents the Icelandic mentality: very much a ‘little guy’, but one who’s upstartish, conceited and feels superior to all the big boys, despite being obviously inferior. As Jón Gnarr, the former Mayor of Reykjavík, said: ‘Nobody from overseas can teach us anything, because we invented hamburger sauce.’ I mean, we didn’t, but Icelanders are convinced we did.

So I just transferred that to cricket. Iceland has the weakest national cricket team, but on social media, we act like we know it all. It works when people realise we’re making fun of those who are bigger and stronger than us. Punching up. Occasionally it doesn’t work, and people from the big cricketing nations tell us to get back in our box because we’ve never achieved anything. And I think it’s very, very revealing when they say that.

J – Since you also played this sport, can you share your experience as a cricketer? 

I used to be quite handy. I bowled off-spin. The slow, flighted, English kind. I bowl this rarely-used delivery, the back spinner, which was popular over a hundred years ago but hasn’t been seen much since. I had the pleasure of teaching it to Ravichandran Ashwin in 2019. That was probably when I peaked; I had about 600 wickets at an average of about 14 or 15.  Since I started playing in Iceland, my form and confidence have dropped off pretty rapidly. I wasn’t prepared for just how unforgiving the atmosphere would be, and the team management at the time was very remote and unsupportive.

J – Talking about ‘The Hundred’, do you think it will be good for the development of Cricket as promised by the ECB or will it just create more confusion amongst the spectators and the fans watching the game? 

I’m a huge fan of the idea. We all know people who don’t like cricket because it goes on too long or because it’s too complicated. The plan, obviously, is to attract new fans and a new market. I can understand why cricket ‘purists’ despair because they’ve never really got over the novelty of one-day professional cricket, even though it was introduced before most of them were born. But The Hundred isn’t for them, it’s for those who would be more likely to take a look at a quicker, simpler format. I love cricket because it’s bat on ball. The team names are awful but the format is great.

The only problem is that a huge opportunity has been missed to give women’s cricket a turbo boost. The points from both the men’s and women’s tournaments should go into the same table. That forces, say, a London Spirit fan to follow both teams. If the Spirit wins at four o’clock and gains two points, there should be a second game immediately afterwards, when we see if the women’s team can add another two. Fans and coaches would have to devote equal attention to both teams. Tell me that wouldn’t work.

J – The introduction of two new balls from both ends in the ODI format of the game is a boon or bane? What is the major impact in your view?

Well, it’s just the ongoing administrative battle between bat and ball, isn’t it? The format exploded into batting fireworks when they brought the boundaries in 10 to 20 metres and decided every pitch had to be as flat and as hard as a runway. Then they messed about with endless permutations of the powerplay. Now we have two new balls, and it seems like 300 to 320 is about par, which I still think is too high. Cricket needs a good contest between bat and ball. If every bowler returns 10-0-60-1, it’s reduced to a contest between two batting orders, and I think that’s a pity. 

J – Who is your favourite International Cricketer at the moment, and why?

I admire Kane Williamson for his attitude and demeanour. I’m on record as saying I don’t like the way some players swagger around like the school bully (Warner, Rabada, Kohli, Wagner). I think it detracts from their brilliance and attractiveness as players. I love watching Pat Cummins and Ellyse Perry bowl. They’re just so perfect. I admire Ravichandran Ashwin’s attitude and skills. Rishabh Pant and Niroshan Dickwella are good guys and really funny. I’m into Mady Villiers because she reminds me of me, as a bowler. But as a general rule, I’m always rooting for the player who hasn’t yet scored a hundred or taken a five-wicket haul. The newbies are always my favourites.

Thank you so much for reading. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on any cricket related interviews.

Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0
Instagram – @bhavsarj2_0 @icf2_0

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