Empty your pockets for charity

Paul Coupar, a colleague on the magazine, is walking miles and miles to raise funds for a cancer charity and the Laurie Engel fund. So empty your pockets immediately. In his and Hugh Chevallier’s words:

We are walking 150 miles across southern England, from one Wisden office to another, to raise money for the Laurie Engel Fund (Teenage Cancer Trust).

Laurie, the son of Wisden editor Matthew Engel, died in September 2005, aged 13. His parents, Matthew and Hilary, set up the fund to help pay for a six-bed extension to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where Laurie was treated for a particularly aggressive cancer. His medical care was excellent; the non-medical facilities were dismal.

The extension will allow teenage cancer patients to have some space to themselves – where they can just be teenagers. As well as giving patients more dignity, such wards also increase survival rates.

We set off from Upton Grey (near Basingstoke in Hampshire) at 10am on Saturday 19 May. Our first stop, after a gentle four miles, is the Wisden office at the Golden Pot, near Alton. Or possibly the pub near by.

From there, in the company of an assortment of friends, family and colleagues, we take ten days, walking for between 15 and 19 miles a day, to reach the house in the Golden Valley, south-west of Hereford, where Matthew lives and works, and where Laurie lived and died.

We hope to stride (but expect to hobble) down the Engels’ drive some time after lunch on Whit Monday, 28 May. It would have been Laurie’s 15th birthday. See below for a rough itinerary of where we are when.

Cricket’s status and popularity in India

After the Ashes, cricket’s stock rose significantly in England. But even in September 2005, with most of the country drunk on Ashes fever – literally, in some cases – it probably only matched India’s insatiable appetite for the game.

This remarkable fact has been highlighted by Paul Coupar, who’s out there for The Wisden Cricketer and is kindly blogging for Cricinfo too. It makes quite startling reading:

And that appetite for cricket has not changed if Nagpur’s local Sunday paper, The Hitavada, is anything to go by. In a 16-page paper, there are 15 cricket pieces. Remarkably, one of them is headlined ‘Chappell has acknowledged receipt of email’. Over on the front page, the three lead stories are: ‘England Cook up a defiant story’, ‘Keep restraint, Pawar tells Chappell in surprise meet’ and, finally, the tiddling matter of President Bush snubbing a proposed nuclear deal with Pakistan.

I agree with Paul that the appetite for cricket has, in recent times, been somewhat gluttonous; Chappell-Ganguly-gate was unnecessarily long-winded, but it nevertheless demonstrates the unparalleled lust for cricket. Is there any other sport which binds a country’s people together as much as cricket does for India?