Russia October 9, 2009

To Russia with love

It may be a triumph of publicity over substance, but stories have been doing the rounds over the last week about the setting up of a major cricket league in Russia, with some perhaps over-enthusiastic media outlets suggesting the country was

A cricketer during a game on a pitch in front of Moscow's State University © Getty Images

It may be a triumph of publicity over substance, but stories have been doing the rounds over the last week about the setting up of a major cricket league in Russia, with some perhaps over-enthusiastic media outlets suggesting the country was poised to become a cricketing superpower.

While the Russia's United Cricket League (RUCL) should be encouraged, scratch below the surface and it’s soon clear the vision belongs pretty much to one passionate man - Ashvani Chopra.

“I love cricket and I want to make it popular and widely available here,” Chopra told AFP. “We started playing here in 1995 just for fun. In 2001 we conducted a small tournament, in which three teams - Australia, India and the selection of the rest of the world - were playing. The tournament was a success and it became the reference point of our league.”

The league has seven clubs, made up from largely from expats, but Chopra recognises the need for that to change. “We decided that every club should have at least one local player in their line-up,” he said. “From now on it's an indispensable condition for every one of the league's clubs.”

Chopra, however, faces the same problems anyone trying to play the game away from its traditional homes faces. “It's impossible to find cricket bats or the correct balls here in Moscow,” he admitted. “We have to bring all this stuff from home to play here. But we're ready to overcome any difficulties in the name of the game. Nothing can stop us.”

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on October 14, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    I think the ICC Chief is a biased person & I agree with Vinod that his aim is to extablish an Indian monopoly in CRICKET although India is not a super team as compared to South Africa, Australia, Srilanka or even Pakistan. If Indian cricket team is strong enough then why are they playing with their Old gunns like Tendulkar, Dravid,Sehwag,Agarkar etc. Indians have nothing to display in the present Champions Trophy, whereas, look at Pakistan, Srilanka, & another Asian side Bangladesh they are grooming their young guns by giving them chances in big tournaments the examples are Saeed Ajmal & Aamir discovered in T20 WC & now Umar Akmal in CT Ajantha Mendis, Thushara in Asia Cup, Matthews in T20 etc. whereas after 2007 WC India unable to produce a single talent, talk about their bowling looked awkward against Pakistan, batting just moves around 2 or 3 batsmen Yuvraj injured & nobody replaced him what about if Dhoni gets injured near a big event????

  • testli5504537 on October 14, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    Dear Ashvani,great to know that you are so passionate about the game and the cause,we have played a game against each other in Kiev a few years back,if i correctly remember we were introduced through Jai Narula. I played till tis year but seems next year will be difficult as age is catching on.I wish you all the Luck to make the game popular in Russia,in ukraine the game has become popular too but we face the same problem with bats and the cricket gear,we also get it from back home (India) To make the game popular the government i mean the sports ministry should take active intrest. Any way Good luck and take care. Regards Raju Adnani

  • testli5504537 on October 12, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    Agree with Vinod. ICC needs to work very hard towards development of the game in other geographical areas.

  • testli5504537 on October 11, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Maybe they could expand that tournament by offering to have some of the affiliate teams play in it? Or ask some associate teams to send out "B" teams to give thoses players experience as well as helping to improve cricketers in Russia. Thoughts?

  • testli5504537 on October 10, 2009, 16:50 GMT

    Russians I think can play cricket well. ICC has to encourage the cricket in RUSSIA in its most famous T20 format but sorry to say that ICC just became a subsidiary organization of BCCI & ACB & it has limits the cricket within 5 countries so far just 9 countries are test teams out of them Zimbabwe status is blocked by ICC which is a purely injustice West Indies is facing player's protest. ICC what are you doing????

  • testli5504537 on October 10, 2009, 2:50 GMT

    Ambition is a wonderful thing for any aspiring nation. As long as there is realistic planning and development under the surface. Which it sounds as though that is already beginning in russia, so far it might be a small league but it is a start and who knows what they may achieve in time. As with many of the other affiliates and accosiates out there. All of them need to be drive by ambition.

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