UK Lords & Commons tour India to sponsor cricket programmes

MUMBAI: The British Parliamentary cricket team, Lords and Commons Cricket, with nearly 170 years of recorded history, will be touring India from 26 December 2004 to 9 January 2005, with an aim to enjoy the unique experience of playing cricket in India and reinforce the links between the two Parliaments with cricket diplomacy and promote the growing strength of the wider relationship between UK and India.

The touring party is drawn from both Houses, both major parties, includes current and former Government members, Opposition spokesman and journalists associated with politics and one or two younger researchers.

The Lords are represented by Steve Bassam and Tremayne Rennell, the Commons will be represented by Graham Allen, Hugh Robertson and Crispin Blunt, the European Parliament by Robert Evans, MEP, the political media and the press by Michael Cockerell and Richard Heller, Parliamentary staff by Adam Mellows-Facer from the Library and PC Duncan Watson from the police. The tour is being led by Crispin Blunt MP.

The tour is being overseen by a Committee comprising Raj Singh Dungarpur (President of the Cricket Club of India and former President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India), Arun Jaitley, Member of Parliament (Trade Minister in last BJP Government, and now Chairman of the Indo-British Parliamentary Forum), I S Bindra (Principal Secretary to former President Zail Singh and another former President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India), Ian Gomes (Senior Partner KPMG principal sponsors) Peter Frawley (CEO World Cricket Academy), and Blunt.

The players have contributed over $ 25,000 towards the cost of the tour and we have been successful in raising sufficient sponsorship to endow a fund so far of about $ 20,000, which will be called the Lords and Commons Cricket Indian Scholarship. The purpose of the fund is to provide young Indian cricketers, who could not otherwise afford it, with their own kit and to enable some youngsters to travel to the UK to play cricket. The fund will be administered by the World Cricket Academy with nominations from the Mumbai and Delhi Cricket Associations and the Cricket Club of India.

KPMG is the principal sponsor to the event, as part of its social and community development programme.

Blunt said, "In the words of the British High Commission in Delhi, 'Cricket is of course the ultimate diplomatic weapon here and ties our two countries in a way nothing else can'. I hope our Parliaments can demonstrate this in early January next year. Touring India is a great treat for any cricketer where cricket is both front and back page news. They elect former Test cricketers to Parliament in India and with Navjot Siddhu promising to open the batting against us, defeating the Indian Parliament may be a bit of a stretch. However we are thrilled that our sponsors will enable us to put something back into cricket for young Indians to help them get the same pleasure from this great game that unites Britain and India."

KPMG India country managing director Ian Gomes said, "Sports are an integral part of education and an area KPMG is proud to be associated with. The sportsmanship spirit inculcates KPMGs values of leading by example, working together, respecting the individual, open, honest communication, being committed to our communities and acting with integrity. It shall be our endeavour to continue promoting such activities and opportunities going forward."

The team will visit Mumbai, New Delhi and Udaipur. At each venue, the British team will play a minimum of one match with the tour closing out on 8 January 2005.

Peter Frawley comments, "The Lords and Commons Cricket Tour has been managed by the World Cricket Academy offering cricket development programmes and tours around the world. The WCA offers cricket coaching programmes to first class, professional players right across to the junior stars of tomorrow and is set up currently in the UK, India, South Africa and Australia. Working with the Cricket Club of India, the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Delhi and District Cricket Association, the WCA has assisted in establishing the Lords and Commons India Cricket Scholarship wherein funds raised by the tour to India will be administered to help talented but needy young cricketers in these regions to realise their cricket potential."

Among the highlights of the tour are the matches between the CCI Presidents XI, the Indian Parliament Team and the British High Commission with the Lords and Commons Team to be held in Mumbai and Delhi. Match sponsors include FICCI, Nasscom, Castrol India, Standard Chartered, Norwich Union, Aviva, British Gas and Diageo/ Infosys.

Amongst many other things, India and Britain share and enjoy playing cricket. This tour, which embodies the confluence of the political and cricketing histories of both countries, plans to raise funds for sponsoring cricket promoting programmes in India.

The schedule for the tour is as follows:

Mumbai - 27 December 2004 - 2 January 2005 -- Match Vs CCI Presidents XI (28 December 2004), Match Vs Bombay Gymkhana (29 December 2004) and Match Vs CCI XI (30 December 2004).

Udaipur - 2 January 2005 - 3 January 2005 -- Match Vs Maharana of Mewars XI (2 January 2005),

Delhi - 3 January 2005 - 9 January 2005 -- Match Vs Delhi Veterans (4 Jan 2005), Match Vs Indian Parliament XI (6 January 2005) and Match Vs British High Commission (8 January 2005).

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