British bats for 26 hours in world record attempt

  • AFP, London
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 17, 2013 01:52 IST

A British graduate collapsed in a heap on Tuesday after batting for 26 hours solid at The Oval cricket ground in London in a bid to break the world record.

Alby Shale, 22, from Oxfordshire in southern England, began his marathon stand in the indoor nets at 6:45 am (0545 GMT) on Monday and finally declared his innings at 8:45 am on Tuesday.

The attempt was in aid of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation -- a charity set up to create an international-standard cricket ground in the African country, where the game is emerging.

Alby Shale poses next to an electronic timer after batting for 26 hours at the Oval cricket club in London. AFP PHOTO

The previous batting record of 25 hours was set in October by Australian batsman Jade Child. Shale, who has just graduated, is now waiting for Guinness World Records to go through the documentation and confirm his new landmark. He faced around 200 bowlers in his spell at the crease. One of the bowlers was Prime Minister David Cameron, who turned up to give him a few deliveries. With 10 minutes to go, Shale shrugged off the tiredness and started slogging at every delivery.

Alby Shale is pictured after batting for 26 hours at the Oval cricket ground in London. AFP PHOTO

"At the final ball he just sort of collapsed into a heap and everyone piled in on top of him," a spokesman for the attempt told AFP. "Someone sprayed a bottle of champagne all over the place." He then posed for pictures by the clock showing 26 hours. The rules set down by Guinness World Records allowed only a five-minute break for every full hour completed -- to refuel and go to the toilet.

The idea was the brainchild of Alby's father Christopher Shale, Cameron's close friend and his Conservative Party constituency chairman, who died of a heart attack at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2011.

Alby Shale bats at the Oval cricket club in London. AFP PHOTO

"We were standing on the side of the international -- I say international -- the main cricket pitch in Rwanda which still has bone residue from the '94 genocide and we realised that this wasn't good enough," an exhausted Shale told AFP. "We've seen first-hand what cricket can bring to a country and we decided, he said to me there, 'Listen, we need to build a new cricket pitch for Rwanda'.

"And then he died about six months later and this has become his legacy and this is my final farewell, if you will. So as soon as this is built, I think he'll rest in peace." The charity is hoping to raise ?600,000 ($900,000, 700,000 euros) to build a cricket ground with a pavilion and some seating. Around $400,000 has been raised so far. The world record attempt brought in a few thousand pounds through online donations and bucket collections but the main aim was to raise awareness of the cause. The charity is supported by patrons including Cameron and West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara.

Shale said there was "huge enthusiasm" for cricket in Rwanda but the country was "sorely lacking in facilities".

"A new home of cricket in Rwanda -- the first dedicated international standard pitch -- would be a great boost to all the cricketers over there," he said. Rwandans who fled the 1994 genocide returned home having learnt the game in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with just a few old bats and balls between them.

Alby Shale bats at the Oval cricket ground in London. Shale collapsed in a heap on Tuesday at The Oval cricket ground in London after batting for 26 hours in a bid to break the world record. The attempt was in aid of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation. AFP PHOTO

The existing cricket field in the capital Kigali had been the site of a massacre and remains were found when the tall grass was cut down to create the pitch in 2002. For the next few months it was not unusual for a fielder, when chasing after a ball, to trip over a human bone. Rwanda joined the International Cricket Council as an affiliate member in 2003 and has played regular matches since. Eventually, the plan is to build a muti-purpose sports centre around the new ground, with any profits being ploughed into Rwandan cricket.


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