When you try to find out stuff about Estonia, a very Tintinesque-sounding country in Eastern Europe, you get a few surprises. For a country that became independent from a suppressive Russian regime only in 1991, it tops the world in individual and economic freedom, according to the State of World Liberty organisation; it is among the world’s better-off countries with a per capita income of $20,300; and it even has a national cricket team that routinely beats teams from England that come to play there. So what if they are local club teams.
We don’t know yet how Estonia has taken to Twenty20 cricket; what is known is its passion for Ice Cricket, a format that is so popular in the country that it even hosts a world ice cricket championship. Several videos are now making the YouTube rounds (search for “Ice Cricket”) about one such event played at the frozen Lake Harku in the capital Tallinn, and show why ice cricket’s stature in Estonia will only rise.
Each team has a minimum of six members, all of whom bowl one over each in the allotted six overs per innings. The regular rules of cricket apply, except for one minor modification a shot that hits a passing moose or a cross-country skier is given an extra six runs. And yes, it is played with a ball made of composite plastic so that it does not freeze in the -25 degrees Celsius temperatures. It’s bizarre, yes, but it’s fun.
Most ice cricket videos on YouTube are filmed by amateurs who think nothing of standing close to the bowler or the slip fielder to get the angle they desire. Batsmen typically don’t run on the pitch since it is made of ice, and an accident could put them right into the freezing lake. They rather run on the snow that surrounds the ice pitch. Sliding to save a boundary is easy; the only problem is that you can’t stop once you start sliding. Like we said, it’s bizarre, but it’s fun.