By Freddie Hayward
LONDON (Reuters) – Legislators from around the cricketing world gathered in London on Tuesday to play a few overs and leave their political troubles behind – but for some, the hope of a break from the stresses of their day jobs proved elusive.
At least two of the eight teams in the first Inter Parliamentary Cricket World Cup found politics following them to the competition in London.
The English team – perhaps inevitably – had to work its timetable around Brexit votes and debates, while Pakistan’s players were scolded on social media for travelling abroad to play cricket during a period of austerity.
“I just love cricket – it’s a game that brings so many different people together,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, a British Member of Parliament (MP) who organised the tournament.
The event aimed to promote relationships between the parliamentarians and to celebrate the 2019 Cricket World Cup taking place now in England and Wales.
The four-day tournament began with lawmakers from England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan taking to the field.
Most of the players were enthusiastic amateurs but one – Naimur Rahman from Bangladesh – is a former captain of his national side.
“It’s really difficult here because when you captain the national team everyone knows the fielding positions, batting orders and position names,” he told Reuters.
“Here … it’s not so easy.”
In a six-overs-a-side warm-up day, varying levels of skill were on display, ranging from brilliant sixes to ignominious dropped catches.
Taking a break from the World Cup proper to support their politicians, body-painted Bangladeshi fans made lots of noise and waved their national flags.
As for who will lift the trophy, Heaton-Harris said Pakistan have been in training camps for quite some time with their national coach and he fancied their chances.
Every day the players will travel to different cricket clubs around London, with the final taking place at Kent County Cricket Club in Beckenham on Friday.
(Writing by Stephen Addison)