The Summer of '21
What a season of wonderful cricket it was in the Land of Fire and Ice. Starting on a sunny May day with a spectacular display of clean hitting from the charismatic Dushan Bandara, riding through the summer on many memorable individual and team performances amidst threats from Covid and bad weather, and ending with a late eruption from the Vesturbæer Volcanos, led by their young wicketkeeper-batsman Sebastiaan Dreyer, this season had it all to make it to one of the best Iceland ever had.
Team Performance Review
Hafnarfjorður Hammers was the best team this summer, at least in terms of winning the trophies. They were the champions in Icelandic Premier League (T20) and the Summer Solstice Sixes and eventually won the Ashes on Ice two day test match as well, thanks to an unfortunate no-show from Reykjavik Vikings. Hammers ended the sixty ball shoot-out as runners-up, winning 3 of the 6 matches, and was narrowly defeated by the Rest of Iceland team in the Samuel Gill Trophy. Hammers´ successful run was orchestrated by commendable all-round efforts from Dushan Bandara, who grabbed the player of the year award despite missing a significant part of the season with a hand injury. Dushan scored 474 runs in only 12 matches, at 166.3, with an average of close to 68, by far the best this year, while his strike rate with the ball (13 wickets at 13.3) was also outstanding. Chamley Fernando was excellent throughout the season, both behind and in-front of the stumps, claiming 17 scalps and scoring over 450 runs at a strike-rate of more than 150. One of their new-comers, Tajdar Khan, was impressive with his accurate bowling and late hitting, featuring both in top 10 batters and bowlers list, subsequently claiming the best newcomer award. Rest of the team, especially Miakhial, Younus and Nawaz, came up with vital performances at crucial times.
Reykjavik Vikings were not far behind. Actually their win/loss ratio (winning 8 out of 12 completed matches) was far superior than any other team this season. They won the sixty ball shoot-out (T10) and were top contender for the Icelandic Premier League as well until a dramatic batting collapse during the last hour of the tournament pushed them to the third place. Derick Deonarain was phenomenal with the bat, being the only player crossing the 500 runs mark this year, and that too at a strike-rate of 142, rightly claiming the batsman of the year award. Captain Lakmal Bandara, Lakshita Bimsara, Ravi Rawat and Mahinda Dissanayeka also scored crucial runs to support Derick at different stages. As a bowling unit Vikings were outstanding, led by the highest wicket-taker (26 wickets at a strike rate of 8.8) and bowler of the year award winner Prabhat Weerasooriya, and ably supported by Lakmal Bandara´s accuracy, Sadun´s swing and bounce despite a back injury and formidable spin from Ankur Kumar. And a special mention to the Spirit of the Cricket award winner Lakmal Amaratunga for upholding the spirit of the game by taking the field multiple times with a serious leg injury.
Vesturbær Volcanos, the new kid in the block, surprised everyone with a late surge, ending the season with a five match winning streak, catching up with the point tally of Hafnarfjorður Hammers in Icelandic Premier League. However, couple of big losses early in the season forced them to be content with the runners-up trophy by net run-rate. Sebastiaan Dreyer was a revelation this year, scoring 482 runs and taking 13 catches behind the stumps, claiming the batsman of the year award jointly with Deonarain and the award for the most improved player. While Avik Ghosh, Lee Nelson, Kathir Narayanan, Sampath Nagarajan and Mohith Kotian chipped in with valuable contributions with bat, Volcanos failed to score fast enough during the most part of the season, eventually hurting the net run-rate. Vesturbær had a very good pace attack led by Sampath Nagarajan, Ramchandran Gujappan, Sunil Tandra and Kathir Narayanan and brought in many young fast bowlers throughout the summer. Gujappan claimed 18 wickets with an economy rate of just over 5, easily the best this year.
Kópavogur Puffins showed glimpses of strong individual performances, but lost few close matches when it mattered the most, ending up at the bottom of the table in both the T20 and T10 tournaments. Several injury issues throughout the season did not help their cause either. Jegadeesh Subramaniyam started the season with an excellent five for and continued to take crucial wickets throughout the summer, while Nolan Williams, Abdur Rehman, Bala Kamallakharan, David Cook and Navas Khan provided the supporting hands. However, apart from few decent knocks from Bala Kamallakharan, Nolan Williams, Abhishek Chauhan and Jacob Robertson, as a team, Puffins failed to score big, eventually losing 9 out of the 12 completed games they have played. Last but not the least, Puffins showed exemplary attitude on and off the field and deservedly won the Fair play award.
Top 10 Batters of 2021
Top 10 Bowlers of 2021
The twenty one member Icelandic national team was selected and a new coaching team led by Keenan Botha as head coach and Kamallakharan and Nagarajan as Batting and Bowling coach, respectively, was also ready to train the national team. However, international tour was eventually cancelled due to covid related restrictions. The National team played three T20 games against a touring Association of India Dentists (UK) team and won all the matches quite comprehensively thanks to excellent performances from Fernando, Deonaraine, Weerasooriya, Gill and Lakmal Bandara.
The First Timers
Vesturbær Volcanos joined the Icelandic Cricket fraternity in 2021, making it four cricket playing clubs in Iceland. Also for the first time most of the matches were telecasted live in YouTube and scores were captured digitally.
The Icing on the cake
The 2021 season ended with a lavish yet homely AGM and award ceremony at the Hilton Reykjavik. The occasion was graced by the presence of Mr. Shyam, the Indian Ambassador in Iceland, who presented the annual awards and the man of the match awards. Later the mandetory and non-mandetory motions were discussed and the election for the office bearers for the next year took place. Kamallakharan re-elected as the chairman, while Gill was elected as vice-charman and David Cook, Lakmal Amaratunge, Lakmal Bandara, Keenan Botha and Abdur Rehman retained their posts as Secretary, Treasurer, National team captain, National team head coach and diversity officer, respectively.