First we had Twenty20 (T20), then we had day-night Tests, played with a pink ball, then we went a few steps further and had Ten10 (T10) cricket this year. And now cricket has gone a step further in terms of innovation. Sample this new kid on the block — cricket on ice.
That's true. Cricket will actually be played on ice — a frozen lake, to be precise, as some of the biggest stars of the game descend on St Moritz in Swtzerland, according to a report in The Indian Express. The pitch is an artificial turf carpet placed in the middle of the snowfield surrounded by the breathtaking Swiss Alps. Playing conditions are expected to be bright and sunny in the morning, but the weather is punishing at night, when the temperatures often plummet to -20 degree celsius.
Welcome to the first Ice Cricket Challenge, two T20 matches played over 8 and 9 February. The game is played in tradional cricket gear, with a pink ball and the players wear sports shoes, instead of spikes.
The frozen lake on which the matches are being played is reinforced by falling snow, and can sustain weights of over 200 tonnes, according to The Indian Express report. Indeed such is the carrying capacity of the frozen lake that even pavilions and grandstands can be built on it.
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) February 7, 2018
Names like Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Lasith Malinga, Michael Hussey, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Daniel Vettori are involved in the unique venture, and there seems to be a great deal of interest and excitement among them. Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene and ex-India batsman Mohammad Kaif, who are also part of ice on cricket, compared cricket on ice to the Ice Bucket Challenge on social media and called for fans' support. Akhtar also posted a video on Twitter, while Pakistan legend's Wasim Akram's wife Shaniera Akram posted a photo of the couple wearing layers of woollens with snow, snow everywhere.
In the first match on Thursday, the Afridi-led Royals beat Sehwag's Diamonds, who had set a challenging target of 165, according to a Geo TV report. Sehwag reminded the spectators of his old self as he hammered 62 off 31 balls. Former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds scored a quickfire 40 off 30 balls. Abdul Razzaq and Akhtar were the stand-out performers with the ball for the Royals. The Royals went hard at the target and romped home in the 16th over, with Owais Shah scoring 74 off 34 balls doing the star turn.
Dubbed "the best battle of cricket on top of the world", the St Moritz Ice Cricket 2018 promises to be a breath of fresh air, and another example of cricket pushing the barriers of the mundane. This is incidentally not the first time that cricket was being played in Switzerland, nor on a different surface than usual, a Hindustan Times report reveals. The origin of cricket in the Alpine country can be traced back to 1988. And cricket has earlier been played on the beaches of Australia in 2007, 2008 and 2009 in the form of tri-nation tournaments, which saw Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies participating over various editions.
The stars will will be richer by as much as $40,000-50,000 for playing the two matches.
The matches will start at 11.00 local time (3.30 pm IST) and will be telecast on Sony Six HD and Sony ESPN. They will be streamed live on SonyLiv.com.