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Isle of Dogs hotel consultant organising world’s highest game of cricket on Kilimanjaro

PUBLISHED: 12:25 24 July 2014

Organiser David Harper (second from right) with cricketers Clare Connor, Pete Langman and Heather Knight at the Oval.

Organiser David Harper (second from right) with cricketers Clare Connor, Pete Langman and Heather Knight at the Oval.

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An adventurous hotel consultant from the Isle of Dogs is preparing to take two cricket teams up Mount Kilimanjaro to play the world’s highest-altitude match and raise money for charity.

International cricketer Heather Knight will captain one of the sides in the record-breaking game. International cricketer Heather Knight will captain one of the sides in the record-breaking game.

At 5,785 metres, the game will be more than 60 metres higher than the current world record, set in 2009 near the Everest base camp.

With just under five weeks left before departure for the roof of Africa, organiser David Harper, 45, of Capstan Sqaure, launched his project at the Oval cricket ground in south London last week.

A full cricket game has never been tried at such an altitude because of the danger of sickness. The hike itself will take seven days.

Once they reach the crater at the top of the mountain, the teams will lay down their pitch, pop in the stumps and even set up a makeshift club house.

Shripal Shah at the launch event. Shripal Shah at the launch event.

The idea for the match came from a joke in the pub when David’s wife said the only way her husband would ever get to play cricket “at the highest level” would be to climb a mountain.

He said: “I used to fancy myself as a fast bowler but I think it’ll be slowed down to a medium pace at pace when we get up there.

“It’s going to be an amazing experience and everyone’s really excited.

“I climbed up there about 20 years ago so I knew the crater’s just about suitable for cricket, but we’ll take plenty of balls and even a spare umpire, just in case.”

David Harper and Clare Connor David Harper and Clare Connor

The aim is to raise £500,000 for Cancer Research UK, anti-elephant-poaching charity Tusk and the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, which aims to build the African country’s first international facility.

All donations will go directly to the charities while costs will be met by the players or corporate sponsors.

Ex-England coach Ashley Giles, Makhaya Ntini - the first black player to play South Africa - and former England women’s captain Clare Connor are among those taking part in the 20-20 game.

She said: “Cancer devastated my family earlier this year, so this is my focus for 2014.

“Scaling Kilimanjaro in seven days and then playing a cricket match at altitude will undoubtedly be an incredible physical challenge.

“Not only am I excited by the challenge itself, but I have an amazing opportunity to make whatever contribution I can to the pioneering work of Cancer Research UK.”

For more information visit mtkilimadness.com

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