Damon Crawford is a Player from Norwegian National Cricket Team. Damon also plays for a Club named as Oslo Aliens Cricket Club based in Oslo. Damon was born in Australia. Initially he played Junior Cricket at school level. Damon is currently working as a Geo Scientist for a company based in Oslo. After moving to Norway, he joined Oslo Aliens Cricket Club which is considered as multi cultured club as it is a home to Players from Australia, India, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and Nepal. In an Interview with Vishal Yadav, Damon talks about the future plans and throws light on some of the recent achievements. Damon briefly explains some of the challenges and ways to overcome them.
1. Tell us about you?
Full Name: Damon Crawford
Date of Birth: 09 May 1982
Playing Role: Bowler, mid order batsman
Batting Style: Right Hand Batsman
Bowling Style: left arm (trying to be fast)
2. At Present: Are you a Coach? A cricket player? A cricket related business? A club Owner? A cricket Fan? Mention your work profile (if anything else).
Cricket player. I play for Oslo Aliens Cricket Club and for 2013-15 played for the Norwegian National Team. Also of course I am a fan.
Work as a geo scientist for a consultancy company in Oslo. I also do some committee work for the cricket association.
3. Are you playing cricket currently? If Yes - Since how long are you playing cricket? What level of cricket have you played so far in your country?
Yes. I played junior cricket from 8 years old to 16 years old in Australia. I then stopped playing cricket to concentrate on playing hockey- Played state level in the Australian National League. I didn't play cricket for several years until I moved to Norway in 2007. I fell in love with the game again and especially in the last couple years have started taking my performance a little more seriously.
4. Do you play for any club or a team? Mention their names? When was it founded? Where are you working currently?
Oslo Aliens Cricket club. Its been around for 15 years. We are a proud to be one of Norway's more multi cultural clubs. Australians, English, Indians, Scots, South Africans, Kiwis, Sri Lankans, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Dutch, Nepalese have all played matches for us in the last 12 months.
Currently working for a company called Schlumberger as a geo scientist in their Oslo office.
5. Where do you and your team see yourself in coming 5 years? Where do you want to focus in order to improve your cricket?
Oslo Aliens- We hope to keep welcoming new people to our club. We'll always try to give our best on the field but we always hope to have a good social side as well to be welcoming for all those who move to Oslo. For many of us joining this club has helped us settle in. We have a shortage of grounds here in Norway, so we'd like to be able to somehow get our own home ground. This would help us by giving more social matches to our members and some less experienced cricketers who might like to give it a try- something which is difficult with such a limited number of grounds for the # of clubs we have. On the field we always want to win but keep it fun.
National Team- In may we will travel to play the European div1 T20 tournament. We played these teams Italy, Denmark etc a couple years ago and didn't have too much success. However, we've improved a lot since then so we are really looking forward to the challenge of playing them again. Also very importantly for us we have a chance after the tournament to have a play off against France to see who will qualify back to the World League System. That would be a great step forward for us. Its always a challenge for us playing on grass wickets when we are just used to artificial. So, we are travelling early to hopefully get that learning out of the way before we start the matches.
Another challenge for us with a tournament in May is that we don't have any outdoor facilities available until may due to the conditions in Oslo. The local government actually prevents us from using the facilities until then. Luckily we just got an indoor training centre with good facilities this is a big step for us here as we've never had anything like this before. Not just good for the national team but Norwegian cricket in general. Hopefully we can do this sort of thing again if we have the money, so all of our clubs can use it.
As a player- I am probably a late developer as a player. I didn't play from the age of 16-24 and even then didn't play very seriously in a lower grade in Norway. So its only been in the last couple years that I have really tried hard to improve. As a bowler i'd like to be able to understand my action a little better so that I can be more consistent. That's recently helped me have more control over trying to swing the ball.. I've always swung the ball in but its helped me have control to do it both ways.
As a batter I never used to care too much but over the last couple years I've improved a lot. I'd like to think it was all skill but I think having eye surgery has probably helped a great deal there too. No longer need to wear contacts that were very uncomfortable. My club does a trip to London each winter to train at lords (and have a fun weekend) and I got some tips from coaches there. That plus my first national team coach Peter Brett and then the current coach Mohammed Haroon have helped me improve quite a bit.. I guess i expect to score runs now. I am trying to be more balanced when playing shots.. so i can be more aggressive while not losing technique.
6. Do your club/association have any website or Facebook page? Mention their links.
Club- http://www.alienscricketclub.no/ Association- http://www.cricketforbundet.no/
7. Any recent achievements/activities that you had. (It could be organizing a small camp, or just playing a match or organizing a cricket camp or playing a tournament series) Do mention the date.
I contributed to the building of the indoor centre I mentioned previously. It was rewarding to put so much effort into something to see it turn out well. Many people from the Cricket Association here put a great deal of time and effort into it so its been a good team effort of which i am happy to play a small part.
This season I have been partly responsible for creating the fixtures for our cricket association. An incredibly difficult task. We have only 6 grounds in Norway. and over 60 teams. Fitting everything in and trying to make it fair for everyone is very hard. Any association like us is run off volunteers so I think it is super important to make a contribution.
Last year one of the people in Norwegian cricket (Amar Mahli) made a Youtube channel to broadcast the cup final and the T20 final. I was asked to do commentary for it as my club team wasn't playing. This was very scary initially as i had never done something like that before. Its certainly not easy but I really enjoyed it. I hope they want me to do it again! Amar's channel is here- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCem6lqCkIPMDEs0udi_iHsA. it has many videos of Norwegian cricket. Including the most recent women's indoor international vs Denmark. and my nervous commentary debut at the NM final. I was much better in the T20 final but that video is blocked.
8. Would you like to come to India for a tournament or a coaching camp? Or do you want to travel any other country (if Yes, please mention the name)?
I would love to come to India at some point!! With my club it would probably be difficult for us to arrange a team to come over. Many people have families etc so it would be hard to get them devote enough time to play in India. We've actually talked about it before with our Indian members but it would be a longer term goal. I've travelled on a surfing holiday to Sri Lanka before. I had a great time there so would love to go back there and play cricket some day! I've never been to India but I like travelling and seeing new cultures so it would be great.
We try to arrange a pre season tour for a weekend in Europe before each season. We've travelled to England, Estonia, France.. This year we are going to Bristol/Bath in the west of the UK and we are probably going to Spain in 2016. So we do like to travel!!
One of our life members Vijai Prabhudass is from Trinidad so we've also discussed a Caribbean tour. However the logistics have proved a little difficult so far.
9. What are the challenges you are facing in your country's cricket? If any, how do you feel to overcome those challenges?
Our association has made a lot of progress over a short period of time but we do have challenges.
Mainly, we don't have enough grounds and we are actually almost at full capacity. We have over 60 teams with only 6 grounds in the whole country and these are all within 40 mins of Oslo. Partly this is due to the local authorities probably not knowing anything about cricket. So we as an association should do more to build a better relation with them.
I think we must do more to get regular junior competitions going. Those kids are the future of cricket in our country. However, for now any increase in junior cricket would mean perhaps less cricket for the people currently playing as we just don't have the ground capacity. So perhaps current adult players need to be less selfish but we desperately need more grounds to play on.
One thing that also holds us back in my view is the fact that so many of our clubs just have one team and not B teams etc. For me this makes it much harder for junior development. A player who starts in a low division might have to change clubs several times if they want to progress to the top division. Or stay in a low division and slow their development... The result is we don't have many young players in the top division which will hold our national standard back in the longer term.
But we've changed some rules this year to encourage more b teams in each club as previously the rules were a bit restrictive. This year we have two clubs adding B teams to their club which is a good step forward I think.
Our current player base is the immigrant population with roots in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. Then a handful of people from other countries like me. People like that will always play here and long may that continue! But If we want to go to the next level and get more people in Norway involved it has to be more ethnic Norwegians.
10. One thing that you instantly need that would boost the involvement of people in your country's cricket?
As I mentioned we don't really have enough ethnic Norwegians playing. So we need to reach them early in schools if we can.
To boost the involvement we also need to increase visibility. We had the world cup final shown this year on Norwegian language TV which was great. Many of my colleagues asked me about cricket after that. So at least some Norwegians are starting to know more about cricket!
11. Name any 3 active Cricket Clubs from your locality, Country. Also mention the name and email id of these 3 clubs.
I'll name 3 clubs doing different things.
1. Oslo Cricket club- they won the NM cup, T20 and league competition last year so they were clearly the best team in 2014.
2. Sandnes Cricket Club- Sandnes is one of the few clubs from outside the region around Oslo. They travel by plane or drive around 7 hours every second weekend to play in the league in Oslo. As of this year they also won promotion to the top division. Its tough travelling so far for all their matches so I think they deserve a lot of respect for that. There are also clubs from other cities doing similar travelling to Oslo for all matches. One from a city a called Trondheim and another from the arctic circle Trømsø who are new to the league this year. Trømsø to Oslo is 1700 km. If any amateur club team travels more than that for club games then I would like to hear about it!!
3. Falken Cricket Club- As mentioned above I think we in Norway to do more for Junior development and women's cricket. Falken have put much effort into both of those areas recently.. Bringing more kids and women into their club. There are a couple clubs doing similar in Norway and they should be a model for the rest of us.
12. Tell in brief (One paragraph). Which country are you supporting this World Cup? And Why?
I was supporting Australia of course!! I grew up there and it will always be my country despite having lived in Norway for over 8 years. Only time that loyalty will be tested is the very unlikely scenario that Norway plays Australia...
Australia has had to go through a rebuilding phase after losing lots of great players over the last 10 years. So its been great to see some of the new guys step up and perform so well.