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Top javelin coach helps Finland cricket team

Finland’s path to cricketing greatness might be a long and rocky road, but the country does have plenty of expertise in the javelin. Now Petteri Piironen, the Finnish coach of the world’s gold and silver medallists is running a clinic to help Finland’s cricketers reach the top.

Pelaajia krikettikentällä.
Finland's cricketers are getting a helping hand from a top javelin coach in Ostrobothnia. Image: EPA / Paul Miller

One of the world’s top javelin coaches is playing his part in helping Finland’s cricketers as they try to qualify for the World Cup. This weekend the Finnish national team heads to Kuortane in Ostrobothnia for a training camp geared towards next spring’s qualifiers for the World Cup.

Their fast bowlers will have a special two-hour clinic from one of the best javelin coaches in the world, Petteri Piironen, who will look to apply some of the same principles he uses with his athletes to the somewhat different discipline of fast bowling.

"It’s a great honour to have the world’s best javelin coach direct and coach us," said Finland captain Nicky Kamal in a press release. "His presence and participation is a big source of inspiration for us and we’re really looking forward to getting new tips on our bowling techniques."

Javelin elite

While Finland’s cricketing pedigree is not quite up there with the best in the world, Piironen is certainly among the global javelin elite.

He has coached several throwers from non-traditional javelin countries, including Kenyan World Champion Julius Yego and silver medallist Ihab Abdelrahman, from Egypt. When he looks at new javelin prospects, he looks for a few talents that fast bowlers usually possess.

"Throwing skill is quite natural, you need that," said Piironen. "You need flexibility in the shoulder and chest."

The cross-disciplinary approach is not new in cricketing circles. Sports scientists have identified several similarities between fast bowling in cricket and throwing the javelin, particularly in the run-up.

Similarities in training

"When we realised that the World Championship javelin team train at Kuortane just like the national cricket team, we decided to try and co-operate with them," said Finnish Cricket Association chair Andrew Armitage, on his way to the Olympic training centre some 350km north of Helsinki. "Petteri’s session with the players at this weekend’s camp will be great inspiration for the players."

Piironen freely admits his knowledge of cricket is, at this point, somewhat limited, although he does mention several javelin throwers who have played cricket, including Sri Lanka’s Nadeeka Lakmali, South African Marius Corbett and Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago.

Beyond that, his direct experience of the sport is quite limited.

"I’ve seen some training maybe once or twice in South Africa," he told Yle News by phone. "I can offer them some exercises, to help them develop their muscles and so on."

Kuortane for cricketers

It’s a long road to the World Cup for a cricketing minnow like Finland. Next spring they’ll play European qualifiers, but even if they succeed there there’ll be several more games before they get to the finals.

Even so, they might provide a lasting example for the rest of the cricketing world on how to harness the best knowledge from the athletics world.

"Kuortane is known as one of the best javelin training centres in the world, and the idea is that professional cricket training will become well-known in the cricketing world," said Armitage. "We’ve already started discussions with British teams about training camps in 2016."

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