Every month, Niceland and MINK Viking Portrait Studio will be finding a unique individual or group that is bringing things to Iceland or exporting something from Iceland to the rest of the world.
Meet our September Viking:
Abhishek Raj Cauhan, The Indian Cricket Player
Abhishek moved to Iceland from India in 2014 to be with his wife, a Russian immigrant who has been living in Iceland for years. He played competitive cricket in his teens, but an injury in his arm held him back. When he moved here, he discovered there was a Facebook group called, “Iceland Cricket”, which was started in 2008. It was never taken too seriously. Abhishek, with the help of some fellow enthusiasts, wants Iceland to grab a bat and a ball and start hitting the pitch.
Did you ever think you would be trying to promote and organize cricket in Iceland?
“I swear to God. I never thought in my whole life… let me explain: I met my wife in 2011 and I asked her three times, ‘Are you sure? Maybe you just don’t know how to spell your country’s name. Are your sure it’s not Ireland?’ She gave me a look I’ve never forgotten.
“I knew there was a country called Iceland, but it was made out of ice in my mind. I didn’t think people could live there. When my wife realized I was being serious, she started to tease me. ‘Yes! I live in Iceland. It is all Ice. I live in an igloo and you’re moving in with me.'”
What do you do for work here in Iceland?
“I’m a bartender at the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel. Most of the guys are working in the hotel industry. We all have the same interest to play cricket and we are coming from different countries. I think we have one from every cricket playing nation. We have people from the West Indies. We have people from Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka…etc. The Sri Lankan players came to Iceland for work after the Tsunami in 2008. Most of our players have Icelandic citizenship.
We even have one authentic Icelander on the team.”
One Icelander! How is he?
“He’s really good…for a native.”
How was the first practice or meet up?
“I still remember the first practice–only 4 people showed up. We knew we would be playing a lot of indoor cricket. Iceland is not a summer country. It’s two months of summer and ten months of dark winter. If you’re not playing for 8 months and then you try and pick up the game again. There’s a big difference in your playing.”
Things are going well now, right? You just played a tournament in Prague.
“Most teams are shocked at our level. We defeated the team from Dubai. We defeated the team from Switzerland. We don’t even have a cricket pitch in Iceland. We play on astroturf. When we go to another country, we take at least three games to get used to the pitch.
We gave a stiff competition to all the teams–except the team from india who came with professionals to win the tournament. No one had a chance against them. They were miles ahead of everyone. They were professionals. There is a big difference between people who play for fun and people who get paid to play.”
“We knew we would be playing a lot of indoor cricket. Iceland is not a summer country. It’s two months of summer and ten months of dark winter.”
What do the other teams think about a cricket team from Iceland?
“No one has any idea about Iceland. Whenever we show up, our competitors ask, ‘are you sure you can play cricket?'”
I’m sure there are a lot of Icelanders that don’t know there is a cricket team here, right?
“The growth has been going really well, but like I said, we started with four people. The problem is that people still don’t know that there is cricket in Iceland. We need people all over Iceland to know. People in Keflavík need to know there is a cricket team in Reykjavík. Tell everyone they can come and practice with us. We will make it fun and easy.”
Is it hard to learn cricket?
“With Cricket you need to make things simple for newcomers. You can’t teach the game in one go and be like, ‘And that’s cricket!’ You have to take it one step at a time.
People tend to be worried about the length of a game.The short version of cricket is played for three hours and the most popular version is for eight hours and the longest version is five days. In Iceland, we only play the three hour version.”
How do you get the equipment in Iceland?
“There is no place in Iceland to get gear, so we have to get everything shipped in and it costs a lot. We’re sponsored by Viking Cricket Bats. For every cricket bat they sell we get 1 pound. They aren’t huge company. They’re a midsize or, I guess, smaller manufacturer. They were really happy to team up with us, mostly because of our name. They are Viking Bats and we are the Reykjavik Vikings.
We need more sponsors. We want to participate in a tournament in Poland. We would be one of the six countries participating from around the world and we need help to go.”
How can people join?
They can contact us through the Facebook group “Iceland Cricket” or just come to a practice beginning in October. They take place every Saturday at 17:00 and Sunday at 09:30 at the Sporthusið in Kópavogur.
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