CRICKET IN RUSSIA
The first game of cricket in Russia was played in the 1870s, in the historic city of St Petersburg. In 1875, the British inhabitants of the city challenged the sailors of the Prince of Wales’ Royal Yacht Osbourne to a match. The city soon developed a bourgeoning cricket scene, with an annual game played between British diplomats and the British managers & foremen from the local textile mills. By 1895, St Petersburg had 4 cricket clubs playing games regularly against each other. However, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 put a stop to cricket’s rise. The revolutionaries were repulsed by the elitism, the pomposity and the ceremonial aspects of the sport. They deemed it to be an unsuitable sporting activity for the traditional, hardworking, vodka drinking Russian and therefore closed clubs wherever they could; effectively killing off the game for the better part of a century. It took until the 1990s for cricket to re-emerge. Some Indian students (who had gone to Russia on an exchange program) found that they were desperately missing watching and playing their favourite sport from home. They resorted to playing cricket with moulded blocks of wood as bats, broken chairs as stumps and tennis balls. Among this first wave of Indian students, was an Engineering Graduate named Ashwani Chopra who fell in love with Russia and decided to settle there. In 2003, a Russian international team captained by Chopra and comprised fully of expats played their first set of games against Amsterdamsche Cricket Club in Amstelveen. In 2004, Cricket Russia was formed as an entity. In 2012, the organisation gained ICC Affiliate Membership. Since then, Cricket Russia have made special efforts to introduce the game amongst locals. A cricket academy was set up in Moscow which upon its inauguration had a sizable contingent of native Russian boys and girls participating. Cricket Russia continue to face many challenges, most notably, the lack of proper grounds and facilities. Furthermore, specialised cricket equipment needs to be imported from overseas, which is expensive. Despite the challenges, the organisation is proud to have integrated several White Russians into the national team set up. There are plans underway to procure new land in the suburbs of Moscow where cricket facilities including nets can be developed. Chopra also intends to merge Cricket Russia and the Russian Cricket Federation, to consolidate it as the sole legal entity in charge of all things cricket in Russia. And post COVID-19, the board’s main priority is to start playing ‘official’ T20Is regionally, so that it can finally crack the ICC T20I Rankings Table.
First men’s international match:vs. Amsterdamsche Cricket Club, Amstelveen, 2003 Major international victories:Winning the 4 Nations Prague International Tournament, 2008 Leading men’s international players: Ashwani Chopra (2003 – 2019), Pavel Akishov, Alexander Bogatyrev, Andrey Borgatyrev, Georgi Kochnov, Vasiliy Kochnov, Egor Sarbukhov, Andrey Shepilo, Victor Sukhotin, Alex Strakhov, Alexey Vasilev, Sasha Vasiliev, Alexander Yesin League formats: T20 and 30 over leagues World Cricket League / World Cup history: N/A
(Part-time cricket grounds): Locomotive Karacharovo Iskra