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Mount Kilimanjaro set to host first ever cricket match

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Make sure you have 27th September marked in your diary as this could prove to be a momentous day for both climbers and the game of cricket, all at the same time.

A brave, some may say mad, group of individuals will attempt to climb Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, but once they reach the summit there is a twist.

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Yes, not only will this band of merry individuals attempt this arduous challenge but they will also end their mammoth climb with, yes you guessed it, a game of cricket! Surely, after climbing a mountain this would be the last thing on your mind but to their credit they are doing it all in the name of charity.

I caught up with David Harper, a serial fundraiser, avid cricket fan and one of the leading hotel real estate consultants in the world, who's idea it was to take on this challenge.

Richard - Playing cricket on Mount Killamanjaro sounds like a mad idea, so how did the concept come about?

David - I was sat at the age of somewhere over 40 in a pub talking about how I could and should have played cricket when my wife said the only way I would ever play at the highest level was if we played at the top of a mountain! I then read Alan Curr's book about his game at Everest Base camp, and the next week I climbed Kilimanjaro to check if there was an area suitable to play a much higher game, to gain a world record for Africa.

Richard - How do you propose to complete this expedition?

David - We are starting to climb on the 20th of September and seven days later we will play the game of cricket. 30% of climbers fail to summit, mostly down to the speed with which they try to ascend. We have decided to take a very slow walk up so that hopefully we will all be fit to not only summit but then play cricket! There will be approximately 120 porters and guides taking the team up the mountain, and the logistics of the whole expedition have been truly the biggest challenge of the whole event.

Richard - I hear there are quite a few people involved, even famous people, can you give us a flavour of who is supporting the fundraising effort?

David - We have Ashley Giles ( king of the mountains rather than the king of Spain) and Heather Knight (England Vice Captain) leading the two teams, with Makhaya Ntini ( former South African pace bowler) and Clare Connor ( head of women's ECB and one of the longest ever serving England Captains) also playing. We have great support from a number of people, including a series of ex-England captains ( Gower, Strauss, Hussain) and the current women's Captain Charlotte Edwards.

Here are quotes from a few of our famous supporters:

“This is an immense challenge. I hope everyone involved with Mt Kili Madness enjoys the adventure, forms some lasting friendships and is successful in raising thousands of pounds for these three great causes...And don’t forget to take some spare match balls, especially for when Gilo is bowling!” Nasser Hussain OBE

“I've not climbed Kilimanjaro since I was five and on my way home to the UK after an early upbringing in Tanganyika. To be fair we drove half way up and had a brief stroll to admire the view. I am very jealous of those making the trip this time but equally relieved that I don't have to do the climb. However the least I can do is wish them all well - they must be daft, the lot
of them. It's taking cricket to ridiculous heights!" David Gower OBE

Richard - Have you done anything like this before?

David - I have done a few similar things for charity including bungy jumping off Victoria Falls, skydiving, abseiling off Twickenham, cycling from London to Amsterdam, and taking part in a round the world sailing race. However I have never faced any bowling as fast as Ntini....

Richard - Once it is all over will you be planning your next trip?

David - Perhaps a game of cricket at the worlds lowest point next? I read " Penguins Stopped Play" and the idea of a game of cricket at the South Pole really intrigues me. Extreme cricket is so much more interesting than extreme ironing I think!

David and his fellow climbers certainly deserve praise and support for their efforts as they attempt to raise funds for three different charities - Cancer Research UK, The Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation and Tusk.

If you would like to lend your support to David and his fellow climbers, or simply follow their progress and find out more information, please check out their website at www.mtkilimadness.com or follow them on Twitter @kilimadness or donate via http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/MtKiliMadness

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