Jungfraujoch match report

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Bert writes:

Some years ago, one of this site’s regular correspondents set what I imagine he thought would be an all-time altitude record for match reporting. He claimed that the match was taking place at an altitude (and I quote) of 3,500m.

Now there is something rather strange about this, don’t you think? What are the chances of that altitude being exactly 3,500m? Given that there are 100 possible combinations of digits for the final two places, what are the chances of them being zero-zero? In other words, what are the odds of this one thing happening out of 100 chances? I’ve done some calculating, and I can tell you that the odds are less than one in a billion, which is therefore zero.

What this means is that the reported altitude of 3,500m is almost certainly a rounding (or as it is also known, a lie). Now nobody would round down, so it is virtually certain that the actual altitude was less than 3,500m. Given that there are far more numbers less than, for example, 3,465m than there are between 3,465m and 3,500m, the odds heavily favour the actual altitude being lower than 3,465m.

So, to business. I’ve just been on my holidays, and I took this photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch, at an altitude of 3,466m. This is therefore the new altitude record for cricket match reporting on this website. Thank you very much.

Good high arm

Kapil Dev, being an international captain of much experience, had elected to bowl on a fairly green wicket. In a rather unusual move, he had set a field comprising almost entirely of extremely short mid-ons and mid-offs. John Embury was clearly finding it difficult to find his rhythm with such a field, as can be seen in this photo of him playing a rather flat-footed straight drive when nobody is bowling.

Good high left elbow

Chris Broad also played, hitting a six onto the glacier at one point. The six-over match was won by one of the teams – the one who scored more runs than the other.

Er, what else can I tell you. Oh, I know, Farokh Engineer was also playing. As were some other people.

Now I know that reporting of actual cricket is frowned upon in these parts, so some of you might have found the last few sentences somewhat disturbing. But never fear, because strictly speaking what I actually took was a photo of a photo of Kapil Dev playing cricket at the Jungfraujoch in August 2009, on a poster in the visitor tunnels. In 2009 I was on holiday in the Lake District, but I would certainly have been following the match closely if I’d known about it. In fact, I do recall having a vague feeling of slight cold one afternoon, which with hindsight can only have been due to a psychic connection with the crowd in the Berner Oberland.


These details in no way invalidate the altitude record, which is mine forever.


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  1. In no way would I wish to question Bert’s maths. Bert is, after all, a mathematician. Whereas I am a humble, part-time operational researcher, who tinkers around with statistics a bit.

    Nor would I want to impede Bert’s claim to the altitude record. If to you, looking at a photograph of other people playing cricket, at altitude in Switzerland, is equivalent or loftier than actually playing cricket at altitude on the Tibetan plateau, that is a matter for you. If you want the altitude record that much, Bert, it is yours without question.

    However, I do feel obliged to straighten out one or two facts. Not least, in case Bert’s report, inadvertently I’m sure, infers some malpractice in my 2010 claim.

    I did not claim that we played at an altitude of exactly 3,500 meters. I said, “[a]n altitude of 3,500 metres held no fear for us, neither for six hours of trekking nor for a couple of impromptu cricket matches.” I think it is obvious, but I’ll say it anyway, that a six hour hill trek does not all take place at the same altitude. Indeed, I can confirm that the range of altitude for the entire trek was approximately, 3,200 meters to 3,600 meters.

    I think it is also safe to say that the cricket matches, which took place at different times and locations on the walk, both took place at relatively high altitude (near the top of the hill), possibly nearer to 3,600 than 3,500 meters. Certainly some travel guide materials describe the settlements, which were at similar altitudes to the cricket matches, to be at 3,600 meters. Information on that remote place; Rutapo Hill in Yunnan Province is quite thin. If you Google the detailed location you find my KC match report, my Flickr photos and little else.

    I think this is really a question of geography and social anthropology rather than a question of maths and stats. If you still have 5 minutes of your 2-minute tea break left (to paraphrase the great man), I recommend a trawl through the 25 to 30 photos from that trek (link below).


    It really was one of the most memorable days of my life so far, so thank you for brining it to mind again today, Bert.

  2. Given it is hard to make out whether that is indeed Dev or Emburey (and given Farokh and Chris are mysteriously absent in the pictures), I conclude that Bert has made this entire thing up or is having a DeCaprio Inception hangover (picture in picture? come on). I move to have this petition canceled with immediate effect. Ged still remains altitude winner. #gedisstillhigh

    If Bert wants to appeal,

    1. The others are not absent, they just didn’t understand the requirements for such a match and turned up in whites.

  3. Match report 26th September 2014

    “A group of international cricketers, including former England spin bowler Ashley Giles, have set a world record for playing a match at the highest altitude. The game was played at a height of 5,730m (18,799ft) in a flat crater just below the summit of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.”

    1. Yes, but were you there? Or at least, were you there five years later?

      No you weren’t so I am still the altitude king.

    2. What are the odds that you were there exactly five years later. Surely you are rounding up, etc.

  4. “The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has sent a cricket ball to the edge of space for the first time ahead of the start of the NatWest T20 Blast competition. To announce the start of the competition, which blasts-off today, the ECB worked with a team of aeronautical engineers to launch an official match ball from Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham, reaching a peak altitude of 110,000 feet, approximately three times the height at which a commercial airplane cruises.”

    I remember seeing this cricket ball go over my house (so I was there), and it was ‘bowled’ from Edgbaston (so it was officially a game of cricket).

    I think this beats your effort by approximately 100,000 feet. Therefore I win.

    1. Jimmy Peaks is a great aptronym for the holder of an altitude record.

      For that reason alone, I feel the crown has to progress from Bert to Jimmy.

      But you did hold the crown for a while, Bert. All records eventually get broken, as I found out with relaxed resignation earlier today, when I read the Bert report.

      Many congratulations to you, Jimmy. That must have been one of the most memorable days of your life.

    2. Oh, bad luck Jimmy. It turns out that it’s not the ball that matters, but the altitude of the tallest player’s kneecaps that counts. So I’m afraid the title has to stay with Bert, unless the ECB’s rocket had one of Dermot Reeve’s legs attached to it. And we’re based in Switzerland so we should know.

      Bert is the champion!

  5. This really is wonderful and quite extraordinary,

    Normally the Court for Arbitration for Sport takes months if not years to adjudicate on a matter.

    But in our case, they have intervened within a few hours – and well after normal office hours on a Friday evening in Switzerland. That shows how important this cricket altitude record must be.

    I am also much encouraged to see a serious, evidence-based matter being discussed here on King Cricket. Makes a change from the usual nonsense about girth sizes, indifferent cats and beards.

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