Cricket is not a sport you would normally associate with Egypt, yet there exists a passionate group who come together each week to play the sport they love. Unknown to many, there is a thriving league organised each year by Ajay Mehra, who has played cricket in Cairo since he arrive to Egypt in October 1997.
“It used to be played off and on at the Victory College Grounds (VCG) in Maadi for seven or eight years,” said Mehra. Following this period the Cricket Carnival was set up in cooperation with the British Community Association and held at the VCG from 2003-2006. “It was played over two days, Friday and Saturday with back to back games of six overs a side with six players in a team. It was full of fun and frolic and very competitive at the same time.” He added, “The Indian team consistently won all the tournaments.”
The VCG was no longer available to the cricketers of Cairo and the Indian team began training at the Mena House football ground. “In those years, it was a sandy and rough ground with lot of thorns. Our hands used to bleed while fielding the ball.” In 2005 the gardeners at Mena House helped the group to improve the playing facilities by planting grass on the grounds. The cricket scene in Cairo took another step forward with the help of the South Africa International Cricket Council who gave the team a synthetic rubber mat, which was laid at Mena House.
The Cairo Cricket League (CCL) was established in 2005-2006 with six teams participating: the Indian Team (ICAC), Pakistan Team (PCC), Bohras Team (Muffadal), Alexandria Team, British Gas and Cairo Rugby Club. Since the first year of the league two more teams have been added to the roster, the Saudi-German Hospital Team and the Egypt Gold Team. Recently the British Gas and Cairo Rugby Club teams merged to form the Cairo Lions. The league is run on a round-robin format with the top two teams facing off in a final to decide the champion.
Since the establishment of the league the ICAC has won the league twice, PCC and Bohras have both won the title once and one year the Bohras and ICAC shared the honour.
Due to various delays and organisational issues this year’s league was not established, but Mehra said the group is very keen to start the new season in November 2013 at the Cairo English Ground where matches have been played since March this year. Even in the absence of the league, the passionate teams still meet to play every Friday and spectators are welcome. The field can be found on the Suez road, one kilometre after the Marriott Hotel on the right hand side.
If you want to get involved in the CCL then contact Mehra via email (Ajay.Mehra@oberoihotels.com). It may be possible to join one of the existing teams or if you are able to gather a team of 11 serious players then a new team can be added to the roster. It must be pointed out that it is a competitive league so if you want to join in you must be committed to playing.