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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

PLAYING CRICKET IN ALBANIA










CB Fry (source: Wikipedis)


Here is an excerpt from Adam Yamey's soon to be published book "REDISCOVERING ALBANIA"  ...


Albania's hero Skanderbeg (Picture by A Yamey)

My only criticism of the National Museum in Tirana was that it was poorly ventilated. After spending about 1½ hours looking around it, we returned to the enormous foyer, and slumped into 2 of the large comfortable armchairs located in the entrance foyer. These chairs reminded me of those which were provided, complete with lace anti-macassars, in the customs shed at the Han-i-Hotit Albanian border post, when I arrived there in 1984. One of the chairs in the foyer was occupied by a man, who looked as if he might have been from the Indian sub-continent. He was working on his lap-top computer. While I visited the museum’s shop, Lopa remained seated. At one stage, the man with his computer made a ‘phone call to his wife. Lopa, recognizing the man’s obvious Indian accent, asked him where he was from. He said that he was from the south of India, and was waiting for his son to return from cricket practice.  
We were surprised to hear that cricket was being played in Albania. Vijay told us that there was an Englishman in Tirana, who was trying to teach an Albanian rugby team to play cricket, and that there were plans to organise a cricket match between the locals and ex-patriates from the UK, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere. This match between the local Albanian Eagles and the international visitor’s team the International Lions was to be played in late June soon after we left Albania. The Eagles who were all out for 49, won by 1 run. Our friend Vicky was the 2nd highest scorer with 16 runs.
Albania nearly became associated with cricket soon after gaining independence in 1912. The renowned British cricketer CB Fry (1872-1956), who was also a politician, was offered the throne of Albania in 1920, but declined it. A report in the Guardian newspaper published on the 12th August 2001 describes how the European Cricket Coach, Tim Dellor, first brought cricket to post-Communist Albania. The reporter concluded: “A seed has been sown in a dusty terrain. If it grows, could a Test match take place one day in Tirana?”. Well, the Test match is still awaited, but on the 26th May 2015, Albania hosted its first ever international match. It was between the Albanian Eagles, captained by Prince Leka II, Zog’s grandson, and the International Lions, captained by the English comedian Tony Hawks. The Albanian team won, and was awarded the Sir Norman Wisdom Trophy.
[Norman Wisdom, by the way, is popular in Albania because his films were the only foreign films that were permitted to be screened in Albania whilst it was enduring  more than 4 decades of Stalinist repression under its Communist dictator Enver Hoxha.]

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