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On top of the world

Team aim for an all-time high with cricket match on Everest.

Our South West regional manager David Kirtley is planning to boldly go where no man has gone before – at least, not when wearing cricket pads!

In April, he and 29 others will play an official cricket match at Gorak Shep, a sand-covered frozen lakebed 5,164 metres (17,000 feet) up Mount Everest. If they complete the Twenty20 ‘test’, they will set a new world altitude record for team sport.

Everest Test ‘09 is being organised in aid of The Himalayan Trust UK and The Lord’s Taverners. They’re hoping it will raise £250,000.

David, 31, brother of Sussex and England fast bowler James Kirtley and captain of Cardiff Cricket Club, said: “It’s a mammoth logistical and physical challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great to know that we’re doing something unique – even if it is a bit off the wall!”

The scale of the physical toll that the match will take on all the players is emphasised by the fact that FIFA has banned football matches being played above 2,500 metres because of the health risks involved.

In 2007, a Professional Cricketers’ Association-organised game of kwick cricket at Gorak Shep was called off after just eight overs – and they weren’t even wearing full kit.

All those taking part in Everest Test 09 have pledged to ensure they are in tip-top physical condition by the time they fly out to the Himalayas. For David, this has included taking part in the Nike 10k and Gyro 10k in London in September, the Cardiff half marathon in October (all when wearing cricket pads) and, in December, the Grim Challenge at Aldershot, Hampshire – a gruelling eight-mile off-road run, wade and crawl where he finished a creditable 349th out of 1900 competitors.

Still to come are the Bath half marathon in March (again in cricket pads), the Three Peaks Challenge (climbing the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales, all in 24 hours) and special training weekends in Dartmoor, the Lake District and Brecon Beacons. All this on top of a five days a week training schedule that he has to fit in around his work.

He said: “The whole party is 46 strong and it’ll take us nine days to trek up to the Gorak Shep plateau. Once we’re there the air will be so thin it’ll be like breathing through a straw. We’ll all be at severe risk of suffering altitude sickness. So it’s absolutely vital that we’re as physically fit as we can be by April.

“I understand that the Himalayan Rescue Association – the world’s leading authority on altitude sickness – may study the match as part of their research into physical capability at altitude. I don’t want to be the one who lets the side down by having to be whisked off the mountain because I wasn’t fit enough.”

You can follow preparations for Everest Test ‘09 on David’s blog at http://cricketontopoftheworld.blogspot.com/.

Anyone wishing to support David can do so via his donations page at www.justgiving.com/davidoneverest