Birmingham Bears skipper Grant Elliott is getting ready for some highly unusual pre-season practice – on a frozen lake in Switzerland.
Elliott is among stars who will participate in the 2018 ‘Cricket on Ice’ tournament on the lake of St Moritz from February 8 to 10. He is one of three Black Caps aces, along with Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum, in the Team Royals squad.
The Cricket on Ice event has been held annually on the lake for 25 years. At this time of year the water freezes into thick ice which, covered by the soft falling snow, can withstand more than 200 tons of weight.
T20 games will be played on an artificial turf carpet pitch laid out on the snow. It is quite a spectacle – and one to which Elliott is looking forward ahead of joining up with the Bears again next season.
In his long career, there is little in cricket that the 38-year-old has not seen or done – but this will be new to him.
“I’ve never played on ice so it will be a really interesting tournament to be part of,” he said. “It is a very beautiful place and will be a great experience overall.
“I’m looking forward to the prospect of mixing it with some of the best players in the world, the likes of Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Shoaib Akhtar and Daniel Vettori.
“It will be a nice pre-season hit before my focus turns to the Bears for the coming summer’s T20 Blast.”
Players in the Cricket on Ice tournament use traditional cricket gear, including a red ball, but wear sports-shoes instead of spikes. The weather is expected to be sunny during the daytime but temperatures can dip to minus 20 – almost as cold as it was in the press tent in Liverpool during the Bears’ county championship match against Lancashire at Aigburth in 2010.