Celebrities in Harpenden defy rain to win game

Sky News Sports presenter celebrates 50th by helping to raise thousands of pounds at charity cricket event

CELEBRITIES refused to be stumped when heavy rain threatened to turn their charity match in to a wash-out in Harpenden recently.

However sporting and television personalities had to rely on local ingenuity – and a couple of 4X4s - when a roller suddenly broke down on the pitch before the first ball could even be bowled.

Sky News Sportsline presenter Jon Desborough commended participants in the match which was held on the common in spite of a string of dramatic events.

The afternoon cricket match was organised to celebrate Jon’s 50th birthday and raise funds in support of Chance to Shine, the Cricket Foundation’s charitable campaign to regenerate competitive cricket in state schools.

Angus Fraser, Jack Russell, Irish international Kevin O’Brien and Mick Hartford were just some of sporting and television faces who joined Jon’s Celebrity Dream XI to pit their skills against Harpenden Cricket Club’s 1st XI in the 15-overs-a-side mini-match.

Jon, who lives in St Albans, said the rain poured so hard that those at a pre-match lunch could hardly be heard speaking on the microphone, and then there were problems with rainwater entering the power source, with the speakers making unusual noises at one point.

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But it was a decision to undertake some last minute preparation before the big game that caused the biggest headache.

Jon explained: “The groundsman took the roller out and the handbrake seized up. Then two people turned up in 4X4s and tried to drag if off; others wanted to push it. We got it 10m away from the pitch.”

So the roller stayed within the field of play, and balls that struck the equipment earned the batsman 10 runs.

Jon, a passionate cricket fan, added: “I said to Kevin O’Brien, ‘In your cricket career you would never have played a game of cricket when the roller is on the pitch’.”

The head of Sky News and several of the channel’s anchors joined 160 people, including the likes of the head of Cosworth F1, at a pre-match lunch and fundraising auction of items including a passenger ride with one of the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers, a private box at Lord’s and sporting memorabilia. The auction raised in excess of �20,000.

Harpenden Cricket Club president Geoff Newman said that about 400 people were at the Common to see the celebrity side narrowly beat the local team.