British triumph in Afghan Calais camp

The Tioxide Chemical Factory Football Ground, Rue des Garennes The Weekenders CC The British entering Afghan territory has drawn divided opinion in recent years but the latest expedition had a far gentler remit as five players from The Weekenders CC crossed the channel to play in the migrant camp at Calais known as the “The Afghan Jungle”. Starved of cricket by their neighbours’ penchant for dominoes, the Afghans finally got their fix on March 28 at The Tioxide Chemical Factory Football Ground, Rue des Garennes – entry via a hole in the wire fence. Some of the migrants have walked from the Mediterranean coast, arriving at Calais with nothing but the clothes they’ve trudged in, so an appeal for kit went out and the response was rapid and generous – there’s no shortage of sympathy for fellow cricketers in grim circumstances.

Pre-loved bats, pads, balls and gloves were donated by Hertford and Roehampton CCs. A pile of white clothing grew, with sweaters, boots and of course boxes, along with no fewer than 27 pairs of trousers – five of them discarded by Ed Joyce following a change of sponsor’s logo. A pitch was lacking but fortunately an event company was virtually giving away lengths of coconut matting normally used to support the well-shod feet of partying corporates.

Strapped to the roof of a car, the 22-foot rolls of coir managed to get past customs without arising suspicion. The British may only have numbered five but from long experience, you can usually pick up a few extra on the way. Some activists put their hands up and the home captain found us a pair of seriously good allrounders to even things up.

Once the game started it felt like any other weekend friendly. The unusual local conditions such as the menacing presence of the riot police truck through the trees and an earth-trembling sound system seemed no more remarkable than a telegraph pole positioned inside the boundary or an overhanging tree. The Afghans made 121 off 20 overs and – largely thanks to the ringers – Weekenders chased the target eight wickets down in the 18th over, just as the shadow cast by the church – made of blue polythene and driftwood – was lengthening.

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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British triumph in Afghan Calais camp

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