Nepal bowls googly to Everest Twenty20 teams

April 12th, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, April 12 (IANS) Cricket, described as the glorious game of uncertainty, lived up to its reputation in Nepal Sunday as state officials barred entry to the two teams of western amateur cricketers headed to play Twenty20 at the foot of Mt Everest.
Thirty amateur players accompanied by 20 support staff had left Kathmandu Saturday to journey to the Himalayan region in north Nepal and play a match at Gorakh Shep, a plateau 5,165 metres above sea level.

However, they were stymied Sunday by a googly from the warden of the national wildlife park that fell on their route.

The two teams, named after the first two Everest heroes, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, were told they would require official permission to enter the national park.

The Dainikee web agency said the officials had said they were under public pressure to stop the teams but did not elaborate who or why.

The much-hyped match is intended to raise money for three projects, including one started by Hillary himself in north Nepal.

The Khumjung School was established by Hillary for his beloved Sherpas in the 1960s and is now a full-fledged high school with his statue. The other two charities are the Himalayan Trust UK, founded by the New Zealander to provide basic infrastructure to the Sherpas like health, education and monastery repairs, and the Lord’s Taverners, established by a group of actors in the tavern at Lord’s cricket ground to encourage youngsters play cricket, especially those with disabilities.

The match is the brain child of Briton Richard Kirtley, who visited Gorakh Shep three years ago, thought it looked like the Oval cricket ground and promptly began to dream an impossible dream. “The British have a proud history of being eccentric,” Kirtley told the media in Kathmandu. “I am keeping up with the tradition.”

The players, aged between 22 and 36, include bankers, lawyers and former cops who have two things in common: a zest for cricket and adventure. While English skipper Andrew Strauss is the honorary captain of Team Tenzing, vice captain Alastair Cook is doing the honours for Team Hillary. Also accompanying the team are four umpires from the England Cricket Board.

The bar comes after Nepal’s nodal tourism agency Nepal Tourism Board hailed the players, saying they would boost tourism in the Himalayan republic that has been falling due to frequent strikes and a crippling 20-hour daily power outage.

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