A new era beckons for the Kópavogur Puffins in 2023. Following a successful campaign in 2022, in which the Puffins claimed both the indoor Volcanic Ashes and outdoor Valhalla Cup, the two-year captaincy tenure of David Cook ended. His replacement, Ben Rayner, has a tough job on his hands to replicate this success, even more so since the launching of the Garðabær Glaciers, a fifth club competing for titles. The early signs from Kópavogur’s indoor training sessions are that he is committed to improving the quality of the team’s fielding and defining playing roles for all squad members early in the New Year.
There have been several changes in personnel following October’s inaugural transfer window. Heading from the Puffins to the Glaciers are the coach, Nolan Williams, opening batsman, Mohammed Navas Khan, and pace bowlers Azhagesan Dhanapalan, Jegadeesh Subraminyam and Vikram Kadam. Riaan Dreyer has retired. Into the squad are Pradip De, Ravi Rawat, Sabir Khan, Roger Young, Ben Cleugh and Samuel Gill. They will all wear the Puffins’ new kit in 2023, a unique, northern lights style attire that has already sold well on the British market. Kópavogur Puffins are also celebrating their 10 year's anniversary.
Two challenges will face the Puffins in 2023: scoring sufficient runs in the shorter forms of the game, T10 and T20, whilst not dropping the crucial chances that their diverse bowling attack creates on a regular basis. Key to the batting will be Bala Kamallakharan, who made nearly 500 runs at a decent lick in 2022, his best ever tally, and Hari Prakash Singh, a potentially devasting right-handed power hitter in the middle order. On the bowling front, no doubt spin will be crucial again – in 2022, Keenan Botha and David Cook together obtained more than half of the wickets taken by the Puffins through their left-arm spin offerings. Other national team bowlers will also look to impress further next year, especially Sai Padamata and Jakob Robertson, whilst Abdur Rehman will be looking to be as accurate as ever with his right arm rockets.
Next year the Puffins will take part in three league competitions, the Sixty Ball Shootout (T10), the Íslensk Premier League (T20) and Valhalla Cup (T40). It seems likely that their careful approach to strategy will be more successful in the longer of these formats. Winning either the ÍPL or Valhalla Cup will guarantee the team a place in the prestigious Ashes on Ice season finale, a two-day, two-innings-a-side match played according to a Test format. The Kópavogur Puffins have never played in this match, a rare gap on their cricketing CV that they are eager to fill.
Speaking to the media recently, a gung-ho Abhishek Chauhan, owner of the Puffins, said that he expect "Kópavogur would play aggressive cricket and show improvement in their fielding compared to last year". We have decided to go with a fresh leadership approach of Ben and Jakob, who have great ideas and understand what it takes to succeed at the highest level. We would go forward only with the fitness coach in future.
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Great batting lineup, they have secured the services of the three highest run scorers in Icelandic cricket history in 2023. This makes them favourites for every tournament they will enter. Interestingly, however, not one of these stars made a fifty against Kópavogur’s vaunted attack in 2022. They would be playing together for the first time in Iceland's cricket history together.
The undisputed champions of 2022, have lost batting resources, they retain significant bowling talent, believe they have a good team but winning major tournaments would be a big doubt.
They will no doubt challenge again for titles, as they perennially do. Sampath less team needs to prove their worth. Pressure of not winning a single trophy in last two years can be determental on the confidence.
Nobody really knows how quickly they will gel. They have a big puzzle to even complete a proper squad. They have experience at the helm, but can they make sufficient runs against the best attacks?
It would be a neck-to-neck competition in 2023. Don't forget to support us by buying Kopavogur Puffins merchandise from the store.