Eleventh-hour discussions between a group of players from Vesturbær and the Icelandic Cricket Association have resulted in the formation of a new cricket club to participate alongside Reykjavík, Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður in the 2021 domestic season.
It is understood that the driving force behind the new team, to be known as Vesturbær Volcano, is a group coalescing around Kathir Narayanan, a 35-year-old all-rounder who only began playing cricket in Iceland last year, making five appearances for Reykjavík. It is believed that he has support from employees of the highly-successful biopharmaceutical firm Alvotech ehf.
“We have many expats in Alvotech, but they don’t have a lot of contacts outside the office,” explained Narayanan. “So I thought this would be a great opportunity to get them bonding and integrating with other Icelanders.” He admits to being a lifelong cricket fan. “I was crazy about cricket when I was young, but I have a long-term knee injury now. This team will be a great way for me to for me to continue my involvement with the game.”
Narayanan was especially impressed with the development amibitions of Bala Kamallakharan, the new Chairman of the Icelandic Cricket Association. “It’s obvious he’s serious about taking things to the next level, and we all found that inspiring,” he said.
Kamallakharan was similarly enthused. “It’s exciting to see a new team and new leadership emerging within Iceland Cricket, and it’s great to see an opportunity for new team management and a new captain,” he added.
That captain will be Sampath Nagarajan, who played for Kópavogur in 2019 and 2020, and has already made an appearance for the Iceland national team. He grew up in Tamil Nadu, playing cricket for Red CC and Star CC in the local district league and, like many of his Vesturbær team-mates, works in the capital city as a biotechnologist. In Iceland, he quickly impressed as a new-ball bowler, with 10 wickets at an average of 19.60.
“I enjoyed playing for Kópavogur,” says the new skipper. “I’m very excited to lead a new club, and to captain a team for the first time.” He draws inspiration from his home country. “I like Sourav Ganguly as a role model. He provided opportunities for young players, and brought an aggressive edge to the team. We want Vesturbær to be known as a good bunch, playing good cricket in a good spirit.”
Previous newly-formed teams have set an enviable precedent by winning the first tournament they entered. Kópavogur won the Volcanic Ashes in 2015 and Hafnarfjördur won the Summer Solstice Sixes in 2018. Does Nagarajan have similar ambitions for the Volcanoes? “I think initially we’re looking at the Sixty Ball Shootout [the T10 competition] at the end of the season. We’ll be all guns blazing by then.”
The capital city now has two teams: Reykjavík Vikings, the country’s oldest club, from the old town’s central 101 postal district, and Vesturbær Volcano, representing the upmarket 107 postal district. This was the location of Melavöllur, the former national sports stadium and the place where Iceland’s first cricket match was played in 1943. In a way, then, Icelandic cricket can be said to have come home to its roots.
The player auction for the 2021 domestic season will be live-blogged on this website from 1400 UTC on Saturday 9 January. Full details of the auction will be published this Friday.