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Cricket in Finland

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Finland_Europe_CricketWhat happens on a cricket pitch, doesn’t always stay on the cricket pitch.

The following of the sport is decoded, understood and, transformed into a homely sort of comfort outside the pitch; in dialogues, monologues, coaching manuals and endless discussion that inspire lives, build conversation and help forge bonds.

That is the essence of cricket: a game riding high on global ambition.

In fact, so incessantly driven have been the globe-trotting ambitions of Cricket, nowadays a sport commercially laden, dripping of the many make or break’s that its culture has reached Finland, one of Europe’s enigmas. Often referred to just as the home of Nokia, or a land mired by an ever-mushrooming of spas and at best, sportingly described as a country bearing the signature of motorsports’ Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen.

But wait, what’s Finland got to do with Cricket?

You would be wrong to think that the ICC, the supreme governing body of modern cricket has lavished the spread of 11-a side game only to the Americas.

Among the most sought after cricketing destinations, Cricket in Finland is fast leap-frogging ahead of a sporting culture tied only to Motorcross, Formula One, Swimming, Ice Skating and Athletics.

Cricket was brought to Finland decades back, all thanks to the British.

For a country whose population is perhaps less than half of Mumbai’s legendary suburban space, a prudent understanding of the sport marries rich vigour with which Finnish youngsters take to the bat and ball, thankfully sparing time out of a gadget-dominated space. Cricket, as opposed to contrary belief is thriving here in the snow-capped icy interiors of a nation that runs high on spa, coffee and lack of sunlight for most part of the year.

As a result, the focus on developing cricket has shifted to an indoor territory

With rich and sustained passion in bringing the cricketing paraphernalia to Europe, the ICC has developed the 10th European Indoor Championship, a tournament that was earlier held every year but has now structured into a biennial event.

In the northernmost periphery of Finland, the focus once every two years shifts to Kuortane, where the competition is held. Unfurling cricketing fever regularly where countries as far-reaching in Europe and as surprising to Cricket’s own admission, such as Denmark and Greece participate, the European Indoor championship is being positioned as the hunting ground of developing what could be a promising battery of Europe’s best cricketing talents.

There’s a lot more in store in Finland that warrants your attention

The Finnish Cricket Association, popularly known as the FCA, has on its own shaped the unique trajectory of the sports’ development within Finland.

Just step a foot inside the picturesque and wide-reaching Kerava national ground in Southern-Finland and chances are, you’d be talking at a level-playing field in Europe. Popularly known as the NCG or the national cricket ground, the cricket ground at Kerava down south in Finland, several miles from capital Helsinki would invoke a sense of magnetic charm as you evidence the fleeting silence here on vantage point.

Sadly, when it snows here, you can’t do much other than become a smart-phone selfie capturer. But when it doesn’t, it augurs well to flex a muscle or two and don cricketing attire.

As the focal point of developing a long-standing cricketing culture in Finland, the FCA works, methodically and tirelessly, along with the ICC representatives here to attract a younger pool of talent a game that has dished out lordly talents such as Bradman, Tendulkar, Akram, Chappell, Sangakkara, Waugh, Botham and Lara, not just names here in Finland but cultures that find some sort of understanding today.

The moist, batting friendly wickets of the NCG (Kerava) offer the same nostalgia as enjoying a Gower cover drive in Somerset or Old Trafford. With as many as 30 registered cricket clubs, domestic competition is only increasing in Finland to espouse for a stronger, national-level movement in cricket.

A rich history

From a historic standpoint, Finland has traditionally enjoyed spurts of occasional cricketing action, way back in the 1850s when the British in Finland, at the height of Britain’s unison with France against Russia in Crimean war, descended upon Finnish shores.

Finland was both of a strategic importance and of certain ground advantage to both Britain and Russia who had been at loggerheads to cease the nation. Finally, gaining its independence from Russia and getting freed from the holds of Sweden, all of cricket’s development in this mesmerizingly beautiful Nordic wonder owes itself to Britain. There upon, the development of the Helsinki National Cricket Club in the 70s led to a leger fueling of interest in a sport that the Finns soon started excelling at. So much so that a recent installation of Nordic-Baltic tournament (post 2014) has only led to shaping of cricket’s trajectory in a land where snow and haze are a common a phenomenon as green alleys in Dharamshala and blooming winters in Zimbabwe, pictorial highlights of evidencing a cricket encounter in usual territories.

With no evident shortage of funds and increasing support for improvement from both national level and international bodies (namely, the ICC), Finland’s romance with cricket seems to be only just beginning. Thankfully, this one has warmth in its candidness, else the cool trajectory can often get challenging to negotiate pace and bounce on 22 yards here in Europe.

 

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