Bengaluru, July 19: It was only a few years ago that cricketers from Russia - a country not known to be a force in cricket - made headlines after participating in the Goa Premier League T20 competition. It was just two years before that Cricket Russia received affiliation with the International Cricket Council.
It's an Indian expat in Russia named Ashwani Chopra who has played a major role in promoting cricket in that country although the local people there still do not identify themselves much with the game.
But Cricket Russia, which was set up by Chopra and other like-minded Indian expats in 2003, did not lose hope of making the sport popular in the world's largest country and aimed that the game is played at the school level so that its roots grow strong.
But Chopra's dream received a blow recently as the Russian government refused to include cricket in its list of registered sports and that leaves cricket out of favour for financial support from the Kremlin.
The reason for the authorities' refusal to accommodate cricket is its failure to match requirements of the complicated criteria. Muay Thai, a form of boxing from Thailand, also failed to make it. Among the sports that were given recognition are footgolf, sports yoga, darts and model plane flying.
Cricket is in practice in Russia since the 1870s and the country was made an associate member of the ICC in 2017 but while the ICC had granted T20 rankings to several countries in 2018, Russia were omitted from the rankings in May this year because they hadn't played enough matches.
Russia will still be represented by St Petersburg Lions at the European Cricket League that features sides from Denmark, France and the Netherlands - a country which has already played in the cricket World Cup - but as overall, the future of the game remains bleak in the country.