After the introduction of Day-Night Test cricket and T10 cricket, people developed a liking to the newest addition in the modified forms of cricket called ice cricket. Cricket was played on ice, on a frozen lake as some of the biggest stars of the game descend to St. Moritz in Switzerland on a pitch that is an artificial turf carpet placed in the middle of the snowfield surrounded by the Swiss Alps.
Since the response for the inaugural edition of St Moritz Ice Cricket tournament was positive, promoters Akhilesh Bahuguna and Vijay Singh feel encouraged to think about making it an annual event.
“The response has been phenomenal and we are happy that all the top cricketers of the world were convinced about the project and came on board. Our aim is to make it an annual event with a three-match series,” said Singh, a resident of Switzerland, who conceived the idea in 2016.
Grateful to Sehwag
Among the big stars that played the tournament were Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis. Bahuguna, on his part, expressed his gratitude towards Sehwag, who was the first cricketer to sign on the dotted lines.
“I remember when we first spoke to Sehwag about our concept, he didn’t even take five minutes to say yes. His only question was the kind of shoes that he needs to wear in order to field on ice,” Bahuguna fondly recollected.
He had said that this form of cricket would be best suited if cricket was being considered as an Olympic sport. However, both promoters agreed that it is a small step they have taken to bring the cricket-loving community closer in this part of the world and its inclusion in Winter Olympics is asking for too much at the moment.
“I believe we are going through an experimental phase right now. Realistically, Ice Cricket or T10 in Winter Olympics is a long shot as of now. But the initial response has been encouraging. We have got enough sponsors, right kind of players of stature and for a week day, a more than decent turnout,” Bahuguna added.
What the players felt
The players welcome the concept and collectively felt that batting wasn’t as big a problem as bowling and fielding. As reported by TOI, the ball, when thrown from the deep, wasn’t bouncing enough before hitting the keeper’s gloves but these are things that can be worked upon.
“May be for Ice Cricket, they can just about make the ball a touch lighter, may be it will help in bouncing more. Right now, it’s skidding more,” Afridi had said.
Jacques Kallis, on the other hand, also added that one needs to be a bit more careful with their footwear.
“Overall, it was a big success as far as I am concerned. Batting is easier as after three or four balls, you are nicely warmed up. But bowling and fielding is a bit difficult in these conditions. And yes, you need to be a bit more careful about the footwear while fielding on ice,” he remarked.
Graeme Smith added: “It took some time to adjust to the conditions but let me tell you that this is the most beautiful setting in the backdrop of which I have ever played a cricket match.”