A most unusual game April 21, 2009

Everest cricketers on top of the world

Cricinfo staff

Two teams from England played in the world's highest match, taking part in a game 16,945 feet up Mount Everest.

A group of 50 people took nine days to reach the Gorak Shep plateau, although the venture was briefly put in doubt when a national park officer refused to allow them entry to the area because it contained rare flora and fauna. The matter was resolved after it was escalated to the minister responsible.

The pitch - and the term is used loosely - was cleared of rocks and pebbles by locals, and then an artificial surface which they had manhandled all the way up was laid. Team Hillary, who made 152 for 5, then beat Team Tenzing who were bowled out for 116 by 36 runs with six balls remaining. The players celebrated setting a record for the highest field game with a giant bottle of champagne, toasting the Queen on her 83rd birthday, followed by cups of tea.

The venture came about when expedition leader Richard Kirtley noticed that Gorak Shep, the highest plateau of its size in the world, bore a striking similarity to The Oval in London. "I was struck that it was perfectly cricket field-sized and I assumed they must use it as a pitch," he said. "So I asked a few of the locals, but no-one had ever thought about doing it. That's when I came up with the idea. I came back and floated it to a few people I knew, and it's grown from there.

"The British have a proud history of being eccentric. I am keeping up with the tradition."

There was a bigger purpose to the game, and the group raised over £250,000 for the Lord's Taverners and the Himalayan Trust UK.

Apart from the nine-day climb - and the return trip - the players had to contend with the altitude which made breathing very difficult and the cold which led to them wearing woolly hats and scarves. But at least it was dry and sunny unlike at the IPL.