Iceland to play its first cricket international

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, Iceland Cricket
Image caption,
This pitch is unlikely to suit fast bowlers, which is just as well given the poor light

Iceland's cricket board has announced that its national team is embarking on a tour in which the country will play its first ever international match.

A press release from Krikketsamband Islands (Icelandic Cricket Board) says that the squad will play four matches in England this July, including two against another unlikely cricketing nation - Switzerland.

English national pride will also be at stake when the tourists face an MCC XI at Hampton Hill in south-west London on 24 July.

"Since cricket came to Iceland in 1999, the sport has been growing steadily," the Sport360 website quoted Krikketsamband Islands chairman Jakob Robertson as saying.

"We've worked really hard to organise our first international fixture, and we are beside ourselves with excitement in anticipation of the tour," he said.

According to Sport360, Iceland is now hoping to join the European Cricket Council, with ambitions to match Switzerland's status as affiliate members of the International Cricket Council - the sport's global governing body.

Image source, Iceland Cricket
Image caption,
The Reykjavik Vikings are one of Iceland's two cricket teams

World Cup by 2025?

In a 2003 BBC feature on the burgeoning Icelandic cricket scene, Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld, forecast that they could be challenging for a place in the World Cup within 20 years.

"All these things come from small beginnings," Blowers said at the time, "but there is a real keenness".

That's something which is already happening in football, where Iceland's national team has qualified for its first ever FIFA World Cup finals. In 2016, Iceland embarrassed England in football's European Championships, knocking them out in the second round.

There are currently only two teams in Iceland - the Reykjavík Vikings and Kópavogur Puffins, with expatriate players in the majority.

Their latest match, held last week as part of their domestic cup series, ended in a crushing seven wicket victory for the Puffins after the Vikings were skittled out for 64 runs after their batsmen failed to cope with Puffin spin tactics.

Reporting by Alistair Coleman

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