Cricketers reach new heights with match at Mount Kilimanjaro
A group of international cricketers on Friday set a record for cricket played at altitude with a lung-busting effort for charitable causes at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The teams, including former English bowler Ashley Giles and South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini, the country’s first black Test player, trekked to the “roof of Africa” before dawn and played 10 overs each of a Twenty20 game before cloud stopped play.
The game was played at 5,730 metres in the crater just below Kilimanjaro’s 5,895m summit.
The standing record for the world’s highest game has been 5,165m, played in the Himalayas at Everest base camp in Nepal in 2009.
“It was great fun, worth coming all this way even if I didn’t stay long in the crease,” said cricket fan and participant Steven Smith, 22, who was bowled out for a duck. “It was such hard work breathing and running at this altitude but something like this only happens once in a lifetime.”
The final score was a winning 82 for 5 for the Gorillas team, led by England women’s vice captain Heather Knight, against 64 for 9 for the Rhinos team led by Giles.
“It was tough running between the wickets but it was easy bowling Ashley Giles out! Fully worth coming all this way, with such an amazing feeling getting to the top and, I hope, breaking a world record!” Knight said.
Top scores were 20 each by Knight and Phil Walker, editor of the All Out Cricket magazine.
The match was played on a plastic mat for the wicket over the ash and in thin, freezing air surrounded by vast blocks of ice. It is expected to qualify as a world record, as under Twenty20 rules a minimum of five overs per team constitutes a match.
Tanzanian mountain guide Mukuru Mugapablo, one of a handful of spectators, said he had seen nothing like it.
“I’ve seen football played on strange pitches, but nothing, nothing beats this game for madness. Altitude up here is a serious issue, people really do get sick. This is a crazy thing to have witnessed on top of Kilimanjaro.”
The summit of Kilimanjaro has half the level of oxygen than at sea level, doubling energy needed for the match.
Players are raising funds for charities including Cancer Research and conservation charity Tusk Trust, which works to stem rampant poaching of elephants and other animals.
Funds raised will also go towards building Rwanda’s first international cricket pitch. The game is growing rapidly in popularity in the central African nation there after being introduced by those who returned after fleeing genocide 20 years ago.
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Updated: September 26, 2014 04:00 AM