Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Empire CC, Finland

Yes, there is cricket in Finland. Quite a thriving scene in fact. Shortly after arriving here I got in touch with a number of clubs in the Helsinki region (including the previously-mentioned Espoo CC) but clearly news of my lack of prowess had preceeded me for only one replied to my emails. Sad face. But what a one it was: the mighty Empire CC, a team whose talents have been drawn from all corners of the globe. India, Pakistan, Finland, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, and probably some more besides...

So far we have had indoor nets every week. These have included not only fielding practice but also warm-ups and motivational team talks. It's a far cry from Hyde Heath, I can tell you. The overall standard is roughly similar, however: I think a match between Empire and the Heath would be a very close run thing.

With the season about to begin, we've had a Twenty20 practice match against Helsinki CC (eight of whom are in the national team). My two overs were predictably expensive but I did remove their opener with a well-flighted leg-break. I was then bowled second ball as we got thrashed. But the match did provide my first chance to look at our home ground in Siilitie (which apparently means Hedgehog Road). As you can see form the picture below, the outfield is made of gravel. Less clear is the matting wicket, and the athletics track inside the boundary.

We also had an indoor tournament in Turku, during which I again took wickets at a high price. We won two out of three of our group games but it was not enough to qualify for the final. Our involvement in the tournament ended in acrimonious circumstances, with allegations of bribery, match-throwing, and some convoluted discussions about ethics in cricket. Probably best not to go into the details...

Photos by Jo Hadley.

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