January 30, 2009

Listen to your body

Playing a cricket match on the slopes of Mount Everest is no joke, warns a doctor in Nepal. Dr Buddha Basnyat, who specialises in high altitude health, said the lack of oxygen – which is only half of what it is at sea level – could lead to illness and even death, even for those not chasing a ball. Basnyat said the players from England, who will play the highest field sport match - a Twenty20 on April 21 - will have to be extremely careful not to over-exert themselves.

"The important thing is, if people aren't feeling well and yet push themselves to play, especially if they exert themselves, that can predispose them to altitude sickness," Basnyat told the BBC. "Basically the players should listen to their own bodies."

The tour party comprises 51 people which includes two squads of 15, two umpires and a support crew of cameramen, photographers, medics, lawyers and environmental experts. The match is a fund-raiser for the Lord's Taverners and Himalayan Trust UK charities. They practised in London's Trafalgar Square on a windy and chilly afternoon in December, much to the curiosity of the public.

Richard Kirtley, the organiser of the match, said the whole ambitious exercise of playing a game at 5100 meters above sea level is a "quintessentially British thing to do".

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo