Late-night television viewers were left baffled on Thursday evening (AEDT) as some of cricket’s biggest names featured in a Twenty20 clash played on … ice.
A frozen lake in St. Moritz was transformed into a cricket field for the clash, with a strip of artificial turf acting as the ‘pitch’.
The match was played in temperatures of around minus 5 degrees in Switzerland, presenting players and spectators with a unique challenge.
The concept, which is more than 25 years old, has been energised this year by the presence of cricket legends like Virender Sehwag, Jacques Kallis, Shahid Afridi, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Shoaib Akhtar and Graeme Smith, just to name a few.
And global interest was high, with the first of two Twenty20 fixtures being screened around the world on Thursday.
The match, played to a beautiful backdrop of trees, mountains and snow, was won by the ‘Royals’, who chased down a victory target of 165 with six wickets in hand and 26 balls to spare.
Former India star Sehwag blasted a typically entertaining 62 from just 31 deliveries for ‘Badrutt’s Palace Diamonds’, and Symonds added 40.
Hussey was not as successful, run out for one, with ex-Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq taking 4-18 for the Royals.
Akhtar (2-32) and Afridi (1-21) were also among the wicket-takers.
And ex-England batsman Owais Shah smashed an unbeaten 74 from 34 balls in the chase, leading his side to a comfortable victory.
South African champions Kallis (36) and Smith (23) also chipped in with important runs for the victors.
A second match between the two sides will be played on Friday evening.
Coverage begins on Fox Sports from 8.45pm (AEDT).
How does it work?
Organisers say the ‘oval’ works because “the lake freezes into an extremely thick layer of ice which then is covered by the soft falling snow, enabling the lake to withstand more than 200 tonnes of weight.”
They added that this “makes it the perfect area to construct a pavilion village and grandstands to watch and support the festivities.”
Due to the freezing temperatures, players wear fleeces, tracksuit pants and jackets in the field.
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram is also involved in the event, while each side has one Swiss player in it.
Ice cricket matches are broadcast into Asia, North America and Australasia through the likes of ESPN, Sky Sport and Fox Sports.