Image courtesy of: foxsports.com.au
Legendary South Africa pace bowler Makhaya Ntini has revealed that playing cricket on Mount Kilimanjaro will be his “hardest test” to date.
Ntini, who started off playing the game barefoot, made history by becoming the first black African to represent the Proteas.
However, the 37-year-old is now eager to give back to the community as he and 29 other players, including former England spinner Ashley Giles, will play a charity match near the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain, which is approximately 5,895 metres (19,341 feet) high.
“It is going to be like going back to the old days, playing a game in the dust in the rural areas, when you didn’t care where you played because you were just crazy for the game,” Ntini told AFP.
However, Ntini also noted that he won’t be bowling very quick during the match since he will have many layers of clothes on to combat the freezing temperatures.
“It won’t be my usual bowling,” he said. “We’ll be playing in so many clothes with the cold, and then there are the heavy boots.
“I’ll be taking six paces and that’ll be it, in the thin air. I wish I was 20 years old again, it is the hardest test!”
The whole team started climbing the mountain on Saturday and aim to reach the peak at dawn on Friday.
They will then look to play a Twenty20 match in the crater of the dormant volcano by laying down a plastic track.
Even though many of the expedition members don’t have experience climbing mountains, the main problem will be the risks that come with playing a cricket match at such a high altitude.
“It is a huge challenge, because each and every one of us will react differently to the altitude, we’ll have to be careful,” Ntini said. “I want it to be an inspiration to others and to help other black players develop.”
It has also been announced that qualified umpires will ensure the match is played properly so that it is eligible for the record of the world’s highest cricket match.
The current record is 5,165 metres (16,945 feet), which was set in 2009 at the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal.