Wednesday, March 15, 2006

BBC organises tsunami cricket match in India-TelevisionPoint

BBC organises tsunami cricket match in India

Is there a better way to help the tsunami survivors overcome their trauma than by organising a cricket match between a host of celebrities from England and the youth of fishing hamlets for whom cricket is not just a game but religion and cricketers are not players but demigods?

Understanding this rather well, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) hosted a cricket match at Samiyarpettai fishing village, about 20 km from Chennai, on Sunday for the UK-based Charity Comic Relief, between fisher folk drawn from half-a-dozen tsunami-hit coastal hamlets in Cuddalore district and British players comprising celebrities from various fields. Leading the celebrities as their coach is none other than the West Indian legend Alvin Kallicharan.

Even Kalli could not do much against the spirited local boys, who spend most of their spare time when not at sea playing barefooted cricket with tennis balls on the beach. The 'New Indian Tsunami Team' hammered the 'English attack' for 176 runs in just 20 overs losing only five wickets and thereafter bundled out the visitors for 119 in 12 overs.

Who really cared for the result when all that really mattered was the spirit of camaraderie across continents? Reflecting just that mood, the little hamlet of Samiyarpettai was decked up like a high-profile cricket Test center with banners inviting the locals to the great event.

The British team included one of the fine wicketkeepers of our times, Jack Russel and retired left arm spinner and reality television character Phil Tufnell, member of the current England women's cricket team Rosalie Birch, county cricketer Mark Chapman, broadcaster Chris Evans, BBC's anchor Jake Humphrey and popular comedian Patrick Kielty. Also there were Harry Judd, drummer for Mcfly and musician Jay Sean. The contest, watched by over 500 villagers, was done in collaboration with an Indian NGO, 'New Hope'.

"One of the objectives of the contest is to entertain the local crowd and support relief work on the less emotive side," said New Hope director Eliazar T Rose. The English visitors had arrived a couple of days ago and moved around interacting with the enthusiastic local youth in Cuddalore, a town that had witnessed over 600 deaths in the tsunami.

"We never expected that such a big event would be hosted in a small place like ours. Enthusiastic people came from several coastal villages to witness the match," said local youth Prakash. The UK team gifted the winners with a cricket kit before driving to Chennai, where it would play against the tsunami kids at Royapuram on Tuesday and move on to Mumbai to play another match against a celebrity Indian/Bollywood cricket team just before the tmillions of pounds, 66 million pounds last year, to be spent on a wide range of charity projects across the world. Every other year, Comic Relief runs a campaign titled 'Sport Relief' focusing on using sport for raising money for international children's charities.

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