Despite not being an ICC member, the Iceland Cricket Association have developed something of a cult following, largely due to inventive – if sometimes controversial – social media posts.
Whilst the first record of cricket on the North Atlantic volcanic island is of two matches between teams representing the British RAF and Royal Navy in Reykjavic in 1944 – with Wisden reporting that the RAF won both – modern Icelandic cricket began around the turn of the millennium when Ragnar Kristinsson decided to bring cricket to the country after seeing the famous 1999 World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa whilst on holiday in Cyprus.
The following year the first matches were played in Stykkishólmur between Kylfan and Glaumur. The first match of the Iceland national team was played the same year against a touring side led by a Manchester barrister, Iceland winning by 13 runs.
Over the next several years cricket continued on a largely informal basis with a small number of domestic matches and occasional touring teams visiting from England. An unusual tour took place in 2003 when BBC commentator Henry Blofeld accompanied a team that featured Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, who also flew the touring team’s plane. One match was played under the midnight sun and another was played on a glacier.
A brief influx of players occurred in 2008 when Indian company Tata set up a consultancy in the capital city, though the financial crash soon saw them leave the country.
In 2014, a team from Australia visited, the first such tour from outside England. Another Australian team visited the next year in addition to teams from Wales, Scotland and the USA. By the end of 2015, there were enough players to form two domestic teams for the first time since 2008 with Kópavogur beating Reykjavik 3-2 in a five-match series.
The following year Iceland undertook its first tour, traveling to Czechia for the Pepsi Cup in Prague, playing club sides from Austria, Qatar, Sweden and Switzerland in addition to the hosts. They finished fifth, as they did when they returned in 2017.
The domestic series was renamed to the Volcanic Ashes in 2018, and three new teams were formed that year for a six-a-side tournament. On a tour to England that year Iceland played matches against the MCC, the Club Cricket Conference, a “Rest of the World XI” captained by New Zealand’s Iain O’Brien as well as their first match against another national team, beating Switzerland by 215 runs thanks to 134 by Dushan Bandara. The tour was funded through crowd funding led by the Reddit cricket group, who became the official sponsor of the team.
More international matches were played in 2019 when Iceland travelled to Malta for the Valletta Cup T20 tournament also involving the hosts, Czechia and Hungary. Iceland lost all four of their matches. Iceland’s inventive promotional strategy came to the fore earlier that year when it was announced that Icelandic mystery spinner Kató Jónsson would be having a trial with IPL team Kings XI Punjab. Of course, this was announced on 1st April and Kató Jónsson was actually Kit Harris, occasional Iceland player and commentator. The first purpose-built ground in Iceland was opened that year in Hafnarfjörður. The most northerly cricket ground in the world was opened by Icelandic prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
The Covid pandemic meant that there were no international matches in 2020, but domestic cricket continued with Kópavogur beating Reykjavik 3-2 in the Volcanic Ashes, Reykjavik winning the Summer Solstice Sixes and Kópavogur winning the Íslensk Premier League. The Samuel Gill Trophy – named for Iceland’s longest serving cricketer – was introduced to be played for by the league champions and a team representing the rest of Iceland. The inaugural contest was won by The Rest, captained by Gill himself.
As a non-ICC member, Iceland haven’t played any official internationals. While they don’t currently meet the ICC’s associate membership requirements, they are looking to develop cricket to the point where they can apply.