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"Mad dogs" enjoy sea cricket in the Solent
7:59pm Thursday 22nd August 2013 in News
Two teams of ''mad dog'' Englishmen have been taking part in one of the more unusual cricket matches of the season - in the middle of the sea off the Hampshire coast.
The annual game is held between the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club on the Bramble Bank, a sandbar in the Solent which becomes uncovered at low water spring tides.
Among the players this year was 74-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who became the first man to sail single-handedly non-stop around the world in 1968.
Peta Stuart-Hunt, spokeswoman for the Royal Southern, said the 11-a-side match normally attracted a crowd of about 40 people on to the small patch of sand but this year she estimated several hundred people were watching from at least 200 different vessels from yachts to a hovercraft, a cross-Solent ferry and even the Queen Mary II liner.
She said: ''It's all a lot of fun. It started out as a bit of a joke and gathered pace over the years.
''Now there's a lot of talk about it on Twitter but we can't take responsibility for the number of people who turn up to watch.
''It can get quite dangerous because the tide comes rushing in before you know it and the players know to jump in a Rib when the tide comes in and the water starts coming up to their knees.
''It really is mad dogs and Englishmen.''
She added: ''It was a fantastic spectacle, I was standing with my mouth open, there were hundreds of people, with at least 200 boats of every conceivable size, it really was a record turnout.
''There were hundreds of people standing around, you could hear their cheers during the batting, there wasn't much sand, they were ankle deep. It really was a fabulous atmosphere.''
But however seriously the players took the match, the outcome was preordained with the winning team alternating each year, with this year's host and winner being the Royal Southern.
The final score was 318 to Royal Southern and 60 to the Island Sailing Club.
When underwater, the Bramble Bank, near Calshot, Hampshire, can be a problematic navigational hazard which, on November 11 2008, caused the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth II to run aground, requiring four tugs to pull it clear.
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