The Local: When did people start playing cricket in Sweden?
Choudhry Shahzeb: The Swedish Cricket Federation (SCF) was founded in the 1990s. Initially there were four or five clubs but today there are twenty-six clubs with around 1,500 members spread across the country in diverse places like Umeå, Stockholm, Linköping, Jönköping, Lund, Eskilstuna, Landksrona, Gothenburg and Malmö.
TL: Who plays cricket in Sweden?
CS: 80 percent are expats from cricket-playing countries like South Africa, New Zealand, England, India, Pakistan and Australia, but also Swedish people are starting to play.
TL: Who can play?
CS: Anybody can play. We have people as young as seven and as old as 45. In fact we’re always looking for people to join since we really want to become a member of the Swedish Sports Confederation (Riksidrottsförbundet) as it would help us to get funding that we really need to continue to promote cricket in Sweden.
TL: How many teams and divisions are there in Sweden?
CS: There are two divisions. The first division has thirteen teams and everyone plays against each other. In the second division there are currently six teams who also play one home and one away game. There are of course also extra games in the cups we have throughout the year.
TL: How many games do you play each month?
CS: Overall we play four games per month. But sometimes we play against two teams on one week-end because of the distance between the clubs. For example my team played Gothenburg and Lund on the same weekend.
TL: Is cricket played differently in Sweden?
CS: Internationally, there are three types of cricket matches. First, there is the five day test match, only played by professional teams in ten competing countries. Then there’s the one day format and the Twenty20 cricket, which only takes three hours. The latter two are the formats we play in Sweden.
TL: Sweden isn’t known for its clement climate – what happens then, where do you play, when it’s cold?
CS: The most important thing for a cricket game is good weather. You don’t want to play with dark clouds over you. So, in the winter we play indoors. It’s basically a new thing. But more and more people are trying it out.
TL: Doesn’t playing cricket indoors change the game?
CS: It’s quite different, yes. You play with six players instead of eleven and because the ball is hard, you have to play in a hall without any glass. Also the game becomes very fast, which means you have to catch the ball swiftly and run quick. But the basic principles are the same.
TL: So…are you any good?
CS: Our team, the Stockholm Academics Cricket Society, SACS, wasn’t that good a few years ago. We didn’t have many players and not even a full team at times, but now we’re the biggest club in Sweden.
TL: What’s your best cricketing memory?
CS: That would be winning the Twenty20 championship last year. We played against Malmöhus CC and we went close to the wire, only winning by two runs. That’s as close as it gets in a cricket game.
TL: So, what’s the latest in the world of Swedish cricket?
CS: Well, Nacka CC and Sigtuna CC will compete in the national league final on 10am on Saturday July 28th at Sigtuna Cricket Club’s ground. We’ve sent lots of invites to people and are expecting at least 80-90 people. It’s not a huge turnout but for us it is significant. We’ve also arranged canapés with food and drinks and music.
Also, Sweden’s national team will be playing in the ICC Europe Division 2 tournament in Greece from September 2nd to September 10th.
Editor’s note: Nacka CC won the title, beating Sigtuna by 23 runs in the July 28th final.