April 16, 2002

Colombia: It's sixes on the roof as cricket comes to Cali

Norman Thracht

On Saturday March 2nd, the Bogota Sports Club, also known as the 'English Club' played against the 'Cali Cricket Club' - the first encounter between these two clubs in 21 years. The match was promoted by the British Ambassador, Mr. Tom Duggan who donated some cricket equipment to the Colegio Colombo Britanico with the hope that it would not only revive the interest in the game at the club level, but to introduce cricket as part of the sports curriculum in the school.

A short match, (22 overs), was played in the middle of the school's soccer pitch, without matting but reasonably smooth grass surface. It was particularly surprising to find about 200 persons watching the game, about 50 English speaking spectators and the rest curious Colombians, parents of school kids intrigued by the nature of the game.

As a bilingual cricketer, I took the opportunity and made use of the microphone to explain the game to the Colombian spectators, a difficult task to translate expressions such as ' sticky wicket', 'googlie', even 'leg before'..... At any rate, most spectators left satisfied that they had learned something about a new sport and I am sure that given the chance to try to play, some of them may become regular participants.

The match itself was very entertaining. Bogota batted first and in the 22 overs scored 98 runs, thanks to Kaushal Sheth's 36 runs and Andy Wright's quick 22 not out, including two enormous sixes, one dispatched to a neighbour's tile roof and another to the roof of the school's main building - two hits that really sat well with the crowd.

The Cali boys, a little nervous since none had played a proper match in 15 to 20 years did very well scoring 73 runs in the 22 overs. Particularly impressive was the veteran, ex county cricketer, Ernie Fields, who scored a picturesque 25 runs, followed by Ignacio Galindo who with a fine eye added 17 more.

On Sunday the 3rd, an extremely hot day, Bogota batted first again with the idea of giving most of the players a little extra time to recover from the effects of the great evening at Mr and Mrs. Simon Ford's home. Another fine innings from Kaushal, Atul Malhotra, David Banham, Carl Rhymer and Simon Baker, the team scored an impressive 176.

Cali got off to a poor start losing two wickets in the first two overs, leaving them in a difficult position for the rest of their innings. Steady bowling from Robert Tinline, Nick Harvey, Sunil Kumar, great fielding by Alan Doig, plus classic keeping by Jim Walbran was too much for Cali: nevertheless, Captain Simon Ford, Ernie Fields and young Johan Van'Doomstrom, (player of the match for his ' hat trick ') kept the battle going scoring important runs. Cali's final score was 82 runs.

The games represented much more then just a game, it was the revival of cricket in Cali and at the Colegio Colombo Britanico School, whose Head Master, present at the matches and keen to begin a new sports front at the school. Most of the credit for the success of the weekend and for the 'revival' fall on the shoulders of Mr. Peter Laurence, UK consul in Cali and flamboyant organizer. Honourable mention to all the players for their spirit and to the cricketing community who supported the 'revival' with their presence and enjoyable company.

A date has not been set yet for the return match in Bogota later this year.