Kathmandu: Everest T20 has survived a googly by Nepal's national park wardens to proceed with the unique match next week, tourism officials said.
The incredible idea of playing a Twenty20 match on Gorakh Shep, a plateau 5165 metres above sea level and just 200 metres below the Everest base camp, seemed to have been stumped on Sunday when the wardens of the Sagarmatha National Park, where the plateau is located, said they would not allow the match to be held in a place that contained rare flora and fauna.
However, after consultations with various ministries in Kathmandu, the two teams of 30 amateur western players were upbeat.
"There is no problem now," said Nir Bahadur Lama, managing director of Peace Nepal Treks that is handling the logistics of the charity match. "We are in Namche Bazar now (the gateway to Mt Everest) and will reach the plateau on Sunday. The match will be played as per schedule on April 21."
Lama said he had authorisations from the ministries of culture, tourism and civil aviation, sports, forest and information and communications and foresaw no other block.
"The home ministry has even given us three security personnel now," he told IANS.
The two teams, named after the first two Everest heroes, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, would play a match at the highest altitude ever 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 in 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.
They are carrying a portable plastic pitch on which the match would be played. Pink balls would be used so that they can be easily detected.