Iceland to play maiden international cricket match against Switzerland

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The Iceland cricket team. Image - Krikketsamband Islands/Twitter.

Krikketsamband Islands (Iceland Cricket Board) have announced that the country will play its first-ever international match against Switzerland this August.

Iceland will be touring London in the summer and will play two T20s and an ODI against the Swiss on August 28 and 29 at St. George’s College in Weybridge.

Neither of the matches will have an official ICC status.

An agreement to the play the three international fixtures in England has been reached between the Iceland Cricket Board and Cricket Switzerland.

Along with the three matches between the two countries, Iceland will also be taking on an MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) XI at London.

Jakob Robertson, the Chairman of the Iceland Cricket Board, expressed delight at the latest development.

“Since cricket came to Iceland in 1999, the sport has been growing steadily and our national team has often played visiting cricket clubs, as well as touring England and Czechia. We’ve worked really hard to organize our first international fixture and we are beside ourselves with excitement in anticipation of the tour,” he said in a press release.

Switzerland is currently an affiliate member of the ICC while Iceland have ambitions for the same as they chase a membership of the European Cricket Council.

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IPL 2018: England batsman Ben Duckett draws Royal Challengers Bangalore fans' ire after innocuous social media post

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Duckett's Twitter profile was inundated with angry responses from RCB fans.

England capped batsman Ben Duckett found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of abuses from Royal Challengers Bangalore fans after his tweet on the IPL franchise went viral.

The 23-year-old Englishman had posted a tweet on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s IPL campaign opener against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.

“RCB’s team is a joke,” Duckett had written on Twitter.

While the intentions of the left-handed batsmen were to complement the franchise for their supreme wealth of talent, it was misinterpreted by the RCB fans on social media.

Duckett had already clarified his intentions an hour after posting the initial tweet with another one.

“A joke is a good thing by the way,” he had written.

The Virat Kohli led franchise went on to suffer a four-wicket loss at the Eden Gardens. By the time Duckett woke up on Monday, his social media page was flooded with angry responses from RCB fans.

Posting a screenshot of the vile messages he had received from fans overnight, Duckett wrote: “Woken up to these and many more horrible messages. Yesterday I referred to RCB as a ‘joke’ meaning they have such a good side with the likes of De Kock, De Villiers, Kohli, McCullum and lots of other world class players. These types of messages are not acceptable.”

Duckett has played four Tests and three ODIs for England so far in his career. While it is clear from his comment that the tweet was indeed a joke, he does now have first-hand experience of the madness that is the IPL without having participated in it.

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Despite World Cup disappointment, Safyaan Sharif feels Scotland can make 'a big statement'

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Despite finishing as the joint-top wicket-taker in March’s ICC World Cup Qualifier, Safyaan Sharif will be on the outside looking in when the showpiece event gets underway next May.

Medium pacer Sharif ended the tournament with 17 scalps (including the wicket of Chris Gayle), topping the wicket tally with Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. But even that wasn’t enough to help Scotland as his team fell agonisingly short of qualifying for the World Cup for the second successive time.

In a winner-takes-all against West Indies in the final group match, they put on a spirited display but were frustrated by rain as they fell to a five-run (DL method) loss to the Test nation, who joined Afghanistan in next year’s tournament.

They subsequently finished fourth in Zimbabwe and that would have been enough to send them through had the ICC stuck to having 14 teams at a World Cup.

But their decision of reducing the tournament to 10 sides has come in for strong criticism and the performances in Zimbabwe did them no favours.

Ireland captain William Porterfield slammed the ICC for the move and Sharif shared the same view, saying it will be frustrating to watch the World Cup on TV.

“I definitely agree with that,” the 26-year-old told Sport360. “I’m not saying that just because we didn’t qualify. But that tournament proved that Associate nations are really competitive and that they are not how they were used to be.

“We have improved a lot and are ready to play against any team. I don’t understand why you would want to reduce the World Cup to 10 teams as there are so many top quality Associate sides beating Test nations.”

He added: “I will have flashbacks to the World Cup Qualifier, how we played and still couldn’t cross the line to get into the World Cup. I will have that disappointment (of not being there) and there’s not much we can do about it.

“We have proved to the world of what we are capable of doing. If there was anything to be done, the ICC should at least change it to a 12 or 14 team tournament.

“But we have to move on and look at the opportunities that are coming up.”

Scotland have another two months before they play their next game – an ODI against England in June before back-to-back T20I matches against Scotland two days later.

They will also play Ireland and Netherlands in a tri-series later that month but after that their fixture list is empty.

Sharif feels the ICC need to do more to help Associate nations develop and the only way they can do that is by playing international matches regularly over the course of the year.

“Looking forward we only have games coming up against Pakistan and England, as well as the tri-series so that’s the only opportunities we have,” he added. “If we qualified for the World Cup, we would have had far more fixtures and chances to play.

“Because we had the experience of playing in the 2015 World Cup, we have improved a lot and managed to compete against these teams. The more games we play, the better Associate sides can be. It’s not just for us but for everyone. Cricket won’t be an issue but it’s about game time and that is something that you really want.

“We just need to make a statement in every game that we play and try our best and hopefully make a change. Play as well as we can and make a big statement and show ICC that we deserve more. This England game is another opportunity to make a big statement of how good Scotland are.”

Since making his international debut in 2011, Sharif has become a key player for his country with more than 90 wickets to his name.

He hopes that one day he could be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s elite players in a global T20 competition and follow in the footsteps of Rashid.

“Yes definitely,” he said. “I’ll be trying my hardest to get into one of these T20 leagues so I’m working hard and pushing myself to get noticed. Obviously, you need a little bit of exposure but with the way I performed in Zimbabwe was a good way to get noticed.

“I’m trying to keep my performances consistent as possible and make sure I’m making a contribution for the team. If I can get a T20 deal, I’ll be very delighted.”

He added: “I also really want to be playing cricket for a county so I’ll be pushing myself every single day to try and get a contract and the only way I can do that is by performing to my potential every week.”

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