Kapil Dev inaugurated the T20 league in Goa © Getty Images
Kapil Dev inaugurated the T20 league in Goa © Getty Images

 

Mar 13, 2014

 

The game of cricket has probably spread its wings out into far off Russia as a team from the country will make their presence felt in a Twenty 20 league to be held in Goa on Thursday.

 

The interesting part about the tournament is that of it being inaugurated by former India legend Kapil Dev which will also provide a much needed shot in the arm that cricket needs in football crazy Goa.

 

When contacted by the Times of India, Ashwani Chopra president of Cricket Russia (CR) replied:” The objective is to promote cricket in Russia. Goa is a hot destination for Russians to rest during the winter [back home] and a Russian cricket team participating in a major tournament will create some curiosity.”

 

“All across Europe, you will see that native Indians and Pakistanis play cricket and it’s not promoted among the locals. Russia along with Bulgaria have bucked the trend and ensured that locals will be in the forefront, whatever the outcome,” added Chopra who also holds the honor of having initiated the United Cricket League of Russia (UCLR) in 2004.

 

The Goa bound squad consists of eight players of Russian origin with the rest being Indians and Pakistani’s who have picked up the sport thanks to the good work of the cricket authorities in Russia to promote the sport.

 

Also, the team which has the approval from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to play in competitive tournaments has seen four of its players being denied a visa for the tournament in Goa thanks to their Pakistani roots.

 

When asked about the above mentioned controversy, Chopra side stepped the question and bluntly replied: “This is the national team of Russia and we hope to make an impact here.”

 

Moving on to the history of the sport in Russia and apart from CR there also exists another group known as the BCCR (Board of Control for Cricket in Russia) which though is not an officially approved cricketing body.

 

For the record cricket was popular amongst members of the monarchy in Russia till the time of the Bolshevik Revolution and Moscow alone arguably has eight competitive cricket clubs with the game also stretching into the far off regions of Sakhalin in the East.