February 3, 2010

The longest game in history

Siddhartha Talya

A group of cricketers in New Zealand took the Trans-Tasman rivalry to a new level, participating in the longest cricket game of all time. Even the timeless Test in 1939 failed to measure up to what a determined bunch from the Cornwall Cricket Club, along with a few extras from Greenlane and Ellerslie, achieved; they went past the record of 66 hours and 16 minutes, set by an Australian team, to raise funds for the Starship Foundation, a children’s health initiative. And they're not done yet, for they're aiming for 100 hours.

Twenty-four players took part in the monumental feat, breaking the record at 4.14am on Wednesday. The 100-hour mark will be reached on early Thursday. It’s not the first time Cornwall Cricket Club has undertaken this ardous task. They were the record-holders in 2008, playing for 55 hours, before their neighbours overtook them. “We’ve got unfinished business. The last time we did it for 55 hours and we could have kept on going. We’ve got a bit of an alliance going on. It’s us verses the Aussies,” Mike Butler, a participant from the club, was quoted as saying on New Zealand Cricket website. “It’s a real relief to have reached that 66 hour mark this morning."

How do the teams of 12 cope? They fight the heavens, dirty themselves in the rain, take turns to eat and sleep and use a special ball and light machines to battle it out. “The weather has been friendly to us except for Monday when the heavens opened and flooded the ground! But we were out there between overs trying to clear the water,” Butler said. “We also use a special ball so we can see it at night. We’ve got light machines to help us see at night. It’s no MCG but it does the job!”

All for a noble cause.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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