BRAMBLE BANK, England (Reuters) - Gathered on a strip of sand in what is normally a busy shipping lane, a group of men in white uniforms and a dog played cricket on Thursday, fusing Britain’s passion for sport and eccentricity.
The match on Bramble Bank is played once a year in August, when enough of it appears during the spring tide. The sandbar sits in the Solent, the strait that runs between the Isle of Wight and England’s South Coast.
The teams are formed by members of the Island Sailing Club in Cowes and The Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble, who by arrangement win in alternate years - in part because a rising tide can suddenly stop play.
“How many other cricket matches do you play in the middle of nowhere, in a place which doesn’t exist a matter of moments after the game?” said Tom Richardson, 73, one of the organizers, when asked why the tradition has endured.
Organizers said the first match was played in the 1960s, but it was not until 1986 that it became the regular event it is today - with crowds of spectators in boats and even a small post box erected to give the sandbank something of a village green feel.
Summing up the fixture’s appeal, player Andrew Given, 53, said: “It’s quintessentially English and a little bit bonkers.”
Reporting by Hannah McKay; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; editing by John Stonestreet