HISTORY

Cricket was invented by the Vikings. In the saga of Egill Skallagrímsson, the eponymous hero participates in a game by the river Hvítá in south west Iceland in the year 911. The Saga recounts: ‘when they reached the games meeting, the players were divided up into teams’, which is exactly how cricket is played in Iceland today. ‘Egill was paired against a boy called Grímur … [who] was ten or eleven years old and strong for his age … Egill [who was seven years old] proved to be weaker than Grímur, who showed off his strength as much as he could. Egill lost his temper, wielded the bat and struck Grímur, who seized him and dashed him to the ground roughly, warning that he would suffer for it if he did not learn how to behave.’ Egill returned to the field of play with an axe, and drove it into Grímur’s head, ‘right through to the brain’. A battle ensued between the teams’ supporters, in which seven men were killed.


That is not exactly how cricket is played in Iceland today.


The English came and went, the RAF beating the Royal Navy in two matches in Reykjavik in 1944. Wisden records that the Air Force won by 36 runs in the first game and 24 runs in the second.

  • 1999   Modern Icelandic cricket was founded by Ragnar Kristinsson, who watched the famous world cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa while on holiday in Cyprus. He decided to bring cricket to Iceland. The first practice sessions took place at Elliðaárdalur.

  • 2000   Two teams, Kylfan and Glaumur, were formed for inaugural matches at Stykkishólmur. The first match was won by Glaumur; the second was won by Kylfan and saw the debut of Samuel Gill, Iceland's longest-serving player. Cricket moved to Tungubakkavellir for the first match played by the Iceland national team, against a visiting team formed by Manchester barrister Jonathan Rule. Iceland scored 107 and the visitors scored 94.

  • 2001   A third domestic team, from Tryggingamiðstöðin insurance company, was formed for the benefit of a Sky Sports feature about Icelandic cricket. It played (and lost to) a combined Kylfan and Glaumur team, watched by a global audience.

  • 2002   Cricket was first played at Víðistaðatún because houses were constructed at Tungubakkavellir. 

  • 2003   Cricket moved to Laugardalur. The famous BBC commentator Henry Blofeld accompanied the Effigies tour to Iceland in when one game was played under the midnight sun, and another on a glacier. Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden played, and also piloted the touring team's plane.

  • 2004   A British paper factory brought the third touring side to tour Iceland.

  • 2005   Cricket was dominated by Asian expats working for the Kárahnjúkar dam project.

  • 2006   Domestic cricket continued sporadically and casually, now at Klambratún.

  • 2007   A fourth visiting team, representing DHL, came to Iceland

  • 2008   There was a substantial influx of Indian players when Tata began a consultancy in the capital city. A quadrangular tournament was played between the 1st and 2nd XIs of Kylfan and Tata, and Ovingdean, from England, became the fifth team to visit Iceland.

  • 2009   The financial crash meant that all the Tata players left, and although Sachin Tendulkar visited Iceland, it was only to play golf.

  • 2010   Icelanders celebrated as Tendulkar became the first batsman to score 200 in an ODI, which was front page news in Iceland. The same year, it was reported that Lalit Modi was seeking asylum in Iceland. He denied it the following day.

  • 2011   The Fellowship of Fairly Odd Places brought the sixth touring team to Iceland and Robert Kottman, of the visiting team, took the only hat trick in Icelandic cricket.

  • 2012   Cricket continued on an informal basis at Klambratún.

  • 2013   Klambratún remained the home of Icelandic cricket but the artificial pitch, donated by the Effigies in 2003, is dug up and removed.

  • 2014   The seventh touring team to visit Iceland, and the first from outside England, was an Australian touring team, Celtic Ice. 

  • 2015    Matches moved to Kórinn, where Iceland hosted four touring teams: Columbia (USA), Galah (Australia), Carmel (Wales) and Dollar (Scotland). By the end of the year, there were sufficient players for the formation of two domestic teams for the first time since 2008: a new team, Kópavogur, beat Reykjavík (formerly Kylfan) by seven wickets, and proceeded to win the first domestic series 3—2.

  • 2016   Kópavogur won the sophomore series 3—2 and there was a visit from Masstor (England), the 12th team to tour Iceland. Iceland undertook its first international tour, to Czechia for the Pepsi Cup, an international club tournament with one invited team from each of Austria, Czechia, Iceland, Qatar, Sweden and Switzerland. Iceland came fifth out of the six teams. 

  • 2017   The season began with Reykjavík avenging the previous year’s series defeat (3—2). Iceland’s second international tour was to the UK  for friendly matches in Bedfordshire and Berkshire. Visits by four English clubs followed: Allez Les Bloggers, Hackney Village (against whom Dushan Bandara hit an Icelandic home record 127 from 45 balls in the same innings), Antelopians and the Authors. Iceland’s third international tour was a return to Czechia in 2017 for the Pepsi Cup, this time with invited club teams from the UK, Russia, Czechia, Iceland, India and Switzerland. Iceland again came fifth out of the six teams. 

  • 2018   The domestic series was renamed the Volcanic Ashes, and Kópavogur beat Reykjavík  3—2. The Íslensk Premier League (ÍPL) was formed: a six-a-side tournament played between Reykjavík and Kópavogur plus three new teams: Seltjarnarnes, Garðabær and Hafnarfjörður. Garðabær were the winners. Iceland’s fourth international tour was to the UK in 2018 for matches against the MCC, the Club Cricket Conference, the Authors and a Rest of the World XI captained by former New Zealand international Iain O’Brien. The tour concluded with Iceland’s first ever international match, against Switzerland at St George’s College in Weybridge. Iceland scored 330 for 7 in 50 overs, with Dushan Bandara hitting 134 from 105 balls. Switzerland were bowled out for 115 in 27 overs. Iceland’s fifth international tour was a return to Czechia in 2018 for the Pepsi Cup, this time with invited club teams from the USA, Bahrain, Czechia, Iceland, India and Switzerland. Once again, Iceland came fifth out of the six teams.

  • 2019   The Volcanic Ashes, now in its fifth season, saw Reykjavík defeat Kópavogur  4—1.