The Icelandic Cricket Association has released an outline of the domestic tournaments to be staged in 2021, subject to the usual caveats regarding coronavirus restrictions.
It is intended that all the 2020 competitions will run again this year, with some small changes. The Volcanic Ashes, held during the winter and now in its seventh season, has unsurprisingly been expanded to include Hafnarfjörður and Vesturbær. In its first six seasons, it was a five-match series between Reykjavík and Kópavogur; it will now become a quadrangular tournament.
The Íslensk Premier League (ÍPL), the country’s showpiece tournament which debuted last year, will open the summer season. It’s a 20-over competition without a final; the table-topping team will be crowned champions. Once again, they will play the Iceland national team for the Samuel Gill Trophy, inaugurated last season to celebrate the former Chairman’s 20 years of playing cricket in Iceland.
Next will come the fourth edition of the Summer Solstice Sixes, played until midnight on the longest day of the year. It is hoped that an invitational Garðabær team will enter again this year, though plans for overseas clubs to enter appear to be receding owing to the continuation of travel and quarantine restrictions.
The Sixty Ball Shootout will also be expanded in the same way as the ÍPL, with the four clubs playing a league without a final. This 10-over competition was introduced at short notice last year, when the European Cricket Series Reykjavík was cancelled on the eve of its opening day.
Kópavogur remain the team to beat, having completed the treble in 2020 by claiming the Ashes, the ÍPL and the Shootout. They failed to make it four by losing the Gill. Reykjavík, who did the double in 2019, will hope to improve significantly, not least by winning a third successive Sixes title.
Coronavirus, of course, poses its customary threat. From this week, however, sporting activity has been permitted to resume indoors, with some conditions. Iceland is presently at the back-end of its second wave of infection and the authorities are understandably cautious.
David Cook, the Secretary of the Icelandic Cricket Association, was hopeful that the programme could be played out in full. “Assuming government regulations allow, this promises to be the most action-packed year in the history of Icelandic cricket. No player will suffer from lack of opportunity to stake their case for national team selection.”
There is one addition to the programme. An exhibition match called the ‘Ashes on Ice’ has been provisionally scheduled for August; it takes the form of a two-day, two-innings game between the two highest-achieving clubs of the summer. This innovation was previously attempted two years ago, but no team proved capable of batting for more than 37.5 overs. Indeed, Kópavogur’s total of 132 all out on that occasion proved to be the longest innings yet played by a domestic team in Iceland.
Cook spoke about the planned experiment. “Few of our players have ever shown the aptitude to bat longer than an hour; however, you can’t rule anything out with this crew. Remember, against all odds, the national team weren’t bowled out in either of the 50-over matches they’ve played [in 2017 and 2018],” he said.