Liam’s spectacular catch puts Sweden on the cricket map
If you are familiar with cricket terminology, the phrase “Catches win matches” has definitely been part of your vocabulary ever since your first association with the sport. In Liam Karlsson’s case, catches sure win matches, and the internet too!
Representing Sweden’s national Under 19 (U19) team, Liam’s act of pulling a rabbit out of the hat with a spectacular diving catch in the slip managed to receive some well-deserved attention across the globe let alone Sweden. While Liam is modest about the catch and captaining his national team against its Scandinavian neighbors Norway, Sweden’s emergence on the global cricket map is the only story that excites the adult teenager.
We spoke to Liam a few days after his return from the Norway tour. The catch turned out to be a tiny part of the conversation. We were intrigued by Liam’s experience of playing cricket in a country where the sport is just about to kick off.
You must be proud of representing Sweden at the under 19 level. Being the captain must be the cherry on top. Tell us more about Cricket in Sweden!
It’s an amazing experience to represent my country. I had no clue I would be representing my national team, let alone be the captain until the coach gave me a call and congratulated me on my selection. Before it could sink in, I was on a seven hour bus trip to Norway with the Sweden under 19 team. The time I walked out for the toss as the captain of my national team, I will cherish that moment forever. Sweden is a big country and all the players from the u19 team come from different parts, which means it isn’t possible to train as a team. We play for our home cricket clubs in Sweden and our performances for the clubs are taken into account for the national call. It is a very small community that is growing all the time and I am glad to be a part of it.
The catch! Talk us through.
The catch was all about my positioning. The ball was doing a bit and the bowler asked for a slip expecting an edge off the batsmen’s bat. While I stationed myself at an orthodox first slip position, a couple of thick edges flew past the second and third slip. I moved a couple of paces to my right to a rather unorthodox slip position keeping in mind the thick edges that went unattended. The following over, one flew off the edge and it was an instant reaction from me to leap towards the ball. What more can I say, it stuck in my hand and we were celebrating a well-planned wicket.
Cricket isn’t the first choice sport in almost all Swedish households. How does that impact on the training facilities?
There are a few challenges finding the right facilities for playing cricket. We mostly play on wickets made of Astroturf. Most of the times, we are setup on a football field with an Astroturf wicket. Would be something for our u19 boys to visit the ICC Academy and experience their world class facilities.
You were part of the Gold Warriors Squad at the ICC Academy, a team that is considered amongst the best in the respective age category in the UAE. How did that help representing Sweden U19?
The ICC Academy has a huge role to play in the Sweden U19 story. I felt confident about my skills, which I believe put me in a better shape than my teammates having played cricket for the ICC Academy. While captaining the team, I was constantly revisiting conversations I had as a part of the ICC Academy team with my coaches – Mudassar Nazar and Sam Charnley. Just the experience of being a part of the ICC Academy for many years has helped a great deal.
Being an experienced campaigner, was there added pressure on you leading the national team?
The Sweden u19 team is a bunch of quality cricketers who are very capable of succeeding on a cricket field. As a captain, you always feel the pressure to do well and not let your team down. I felt it was my responsibility to lead from the front and guide the players. Although it was an under 19 team, we had a few players who were 15 or 16 and I wanted them to learn a lot on this tour. I am sure this team will do well in the future.
A lot has been made of the catch on social media. How have you been dealing with the newfound celebrity status?
The following day after our match, the team manager showed me the video that was put on our website and the hits it had received on Sweden Cricket’s social media channels. ICC’s Facebook page posted that video later that day and it all went crazy from that point. Hundred likes turned into thousands and it was all a bit strange with people reaching out to me on social media. What made me proud was that people were happy to see Sweden play cricket, which is the only story this catch needs to sell. I won’t be eligible to play under 19 cricket in a few days time and I am glad to have helped the nation in someway. I want to keep playing for my home club and take every opportunity that helps cricket grow in Sweden.