Kiri accept the challenge to play cage cricket to open SM-VIIKKO 2024

As part of the SM-Viikko event in Jyväskylä, pesis side Jyväskylän Kiri have agreed to swap their usual pesäpallo equipment for cricket pads and bats for a one-off special cage cricket match on Friday 8th March at 9pm. Jyväskylä is often seen as the spiritual home of pesäpallo and later this summer, the sport’s biggest event Itä – Länsi will be played there for the first time in over 40 years. For one brief moment however, the national sport of Finland will support and showcase cricket – the world’s largest bat and ball sport.

“The SM-VIIKKO multisport event offers a fantastic opportunity for cricket to gain more visibility with the wider Finnish population, especially as this time the cage cricket final will be broadcast live on YLE on Sunday 10th March at midday prime time.” Andrew Armitage, Executive Director of Cricket Finland.

This will not be the first time that pesis players will experience cricket, with Joensuun Maila playing an exhibition cage cricket match at SM-Viikko in 2020. But the match against Kiri promises to be even more exciting. Cricket in Finland has come a long way since 2020, with the Finnish Bears playing more and more competitive matches and narrowly missing out on progressing for qualification for the T20 World Cup. In fact, it was Cricket Finland who hosted 2 qualifying tournaments in 2022, gaining both national and international attention. The Bears will compete again in August this year in Guernsey as the global pathway to the 2026 T20 World Cup begins.

The future looks equally as promising, given cricket has been approved as an Olympic sport in Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032. In fact, Cricket Finland is making a drive to create “Finnish cricket Olympians of the future”, as Andrew Armitage puts it. But the Olympics is not the only place where Finnish cricket can shine, as there are pathways for both men’s and women’s teams to compete for places in upcoming T20 World Cups every two years.

Andrew Armitage shares his thoughts on the prospect of introducing cricket to Kiri: “Playing an exhibition match with Kiri promises to be great fun and will be really positive to exchange experiences together of both sports. We salute Jukka-Pekka Karttunen and the Kiri team for accepting the challenge to try something new!”

Cricket offers incredible opportunities for players around the globe, yet it is fairly unfamiliar to most people in Finland. The SM-Viikko event is an opportunity for people to learn and experience the game. Although pesis looks a lot more like baseball, it actually has more in common with cricket than people may think at first. Finland boasts incredible resources when it comes to skilled and athletic individuals, especially when you consider pesis players with powerful and high-speed throwing arms and sharp tactical minds. These skills are immediately recognised in cricket and the SM-Viikko event allows people the chance to witness this firsthand.

The cage cricket exhibition match will take place at 9pm on 8th March 2024 at Hipposhalli football hall and will be free to attend and watch. The game will also be streamed live on Cricket Finland’s YT channel

Then during Saturday from 8am to 8pm and Sunday from 8am until 1pm teams from Cricket Finland will be playing the 2024 Finnish Cage Cricket Championship and Women’s Finnish Cage Cricket Championship events. But if you can’t make it to Jyväskylä, YLE will be broadcasting the final match live on Sunday from 11.55am.

Text: Iain Alba

For more information:

Andrew Armitage, Executive Director, p. +358 503237099