Cricket in Swahili
Sportsworld's Andrew Richardson looks at Tanzania's 2011 World Cup prospects.
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2008 15:40 GMT

Could Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley, pictured here in Zanzibar in 1897, have predicted the popularity of cricket ? [GALLO/GETTY]
Take a two hour ferry ride out of Dar Es Salaam and you will find yourself in Zanzibar.

It was there at the turn of the 20th century that British sailors stationed on the island first put some stumps down in this part of the world.

In the years that followed, a wave of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent arrived on the mainland, also bringing with them their love of cricket.

The LBW law had officially landed in Tanzania.

Fast forward close to a hundred years and Tanzania is hosting Division 4 of the world cricket league.

Overcoming challenges

After two days of wading through the magnificently stagnant waters of Tanzanian bureaucracy, our filming equipment has finally been released into Africa.

We decided to reward the camera for enduring two days in an airport holding cell by taking it on a trip to the seaside.

I am pleased to report our equipment seemed mentally replenished by the task of filming me on Dar Es Salaam's Coco beach.

I was, as they say, happy to take one for the team on this occasion.

Cricket in Afghanistan is also becoming increasingly popular [GALLO/GETTY]

An encounter between Fiji and Italy may not have the locals rushing the turnstiles, but World Cup places are at stake.

Six countries, including the hosts will all play each other, with the top two proceeding to the penultimate qualifying phase for the 2011 finals.

Afghanistan, Jersey and Hong Kong complete the line up here.

Life passion

Zullee Rehemtulla is in charge of the game in Tanzania.

He is also the first and probably only man to write a book about cricket in Swahili.

"It is a coaching manual," he told me, thumbing through his work.

In the absence of any pictures I had to take him on his word.

Beautiful cricket

Zullee has at least five family businesses on the go and appears to know just about everyone in this city.

Thankfully from our camera's point of view, that included somebody at customs.

But cricket is his life's passion.

"It is a sport where anything can happen, where any side can win if it is meant to be their day," he said.

"We are not favoured to do well in this competition, but I believe my boys will play beautiful cricket."

Nicer fields, but do Hong Kong have the experience to qualify for the World Cup?  [GALLO/GETTY]

Rough turf

The venues here are, truth be told, more than a little rough round the edges.

Goats have been spotted grazing in the members enclosures and the only heavy rollers the groundsmen have ever seen were probably on their wives' bedside tables.

But every run scored on these exotic, if not particularly flat fields, will take two teams a step closer to fulfilling their world cup ambition.

And if Tanzania do well, Zullee's coaching manual could be about to go global.

Aljazeera will be providing updates throughout the tournament on Aljazeera TV and on our website.

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