TRNC Cricket Clubs pay homage to
Peshawar School Children
Lynn Holman was sickened by the Taliban’s murder of 132 innocent children in Peshawar Pakistan recently. She was like so many around the World who couldn’t stop crying, as they thought of them happily leaving home for school and never returning and the despair of not only for their parents but the whole local community.
Knowing many of the TRNC Cricket Club team were from Peshawar, she had the brain wave of a special Memorial Cricket Festival involving as many from the Pakistani community as possible. She felt in their hour of need it was important they knew their grief was not just being felt by themselves, but by the British and Cypriots in North Cyprus as well as people generally, regardless of their backgrounds.
Last Sunday, an emotional day started with funeral prayers by Salat Al-Janazah as the teams and supporters reflected upon the horrors experienced at the Peshawar School. Followed by Lynn Holman symbolically receiving the first ball from Girne’s captain Danish Afridi, both whose commitment had made the tournament possible.
Then a packed Pia Bella stadium witnessed an action filled Festival as 4 North Cyprus teams playing 5 overs/innings cricket, battled for the honours. Each team played the others in 45 minute games of huge sixes, wickets, aerobatic catches and crazy runs, thrilling the hundreds in the crowd throughout the day. First Taşkınköy took on Famagusta scoring 25, but they were comfortably beaten with an over to spare. Next, Girne got 33 in their 5 overs, but again the advantage went to the team batting second and Cyprus Lions claimed the points needing only 21 balls to do so. The third game Famagusta notched up 35 and the surprise package Cyprus Lions won again, but this time with only 2 balls remaining. It was then the turn of Lefkosa team Taşkınköy to take on home side Girne. The visitors got what was becoming a near average score of 32, but it never looked to be enough, as Girne’s big hitting saw them to 34 in exactly half their allotted overs.
With one game left for all the sides, Cyprus Lions having won all their games and playing bottom placed Taşkınköy, looked set to be champions, however first Girne and Famagusta faced each other probably to decide 2nd and 3rd place. Girne won an important toss and put their opposition into bat, but by now the pitch had become easier and 55 was smashed around the ground, being the first serious score of the day. The home fans couldn’t believe their eyes as 21 balls later their team had 56 on the board and had definitely taken 2nd place, with an unlikely but mathematical chance of actually winning the day. To add to Taşkınköy’s disappointing day, they lost the toss and were asked to bat first in the tournament’s final and deciding game. They got a reasonable total of 42, but scores had been improving throughout, so victory seemed unlikely. Despite a tight first over of 1 for 1, 16 was taken off the 2nd and defeat looked increasingly inevitable. Then 2 overs for 8 runs a piece left 6 balls to get 11 runs and the tournament would be Cyprus Lion’s. 3 wides, 1 run and 2 wickets later, 2 balls remained and 7 runs needed. A dot ball followed by a massive six and the scores were 42 each. The umpires checked with the scorers and re-read the rules, finally deciding Taşkınköy had won the game having lost fewer wickets. Honours were to be shared between Girne and Lefkosa’s Cyprus Lions with both finishing on 4 points, Famagusta and Taşkınköy ended equal 3rd on 2.
Lynn’s idea had never been about raising money, but of showing solidarity, but as she says, ”we were swamped by people’s generosity, no money was asked for, they simply insisted on giving”. It started with the TRNC club wanting to donate all the players match fees, then Creditwest enthusiastically matched it along with Pia Bella Hotel providing their ground for free. She went on to say, “the kindness of so many individuals from all communities was overwhelming, giving anything from 10 to 200TL each”.
The Club knew exactly what to do with the 3,770TL raised, they felt certain donating the money to the highly respected Pakistani charity Edhi, which works in the Peshawar area providing welfare and educational projects would bring the maximum benefit to the devastated local population.
The day hadn’t been about cricket or even the money raised, but about the heartfelt sadness for those who had died and their families. It was fitting candles were lit in front of a specially produced memorial and as Girne’s captain Danish Afridi and scorer Ian Fell quietly commented it was perfect there wasn’t an overall winner as the tournament had been all about communities sharing and the greater good.