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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
The 20th annual Philadelphia International Cricket Festival begins Thursday with teams from as far away as Colorado, Florida and the United Kingdom once again participating in the four-day event. The festival concludes on Sunday, May 6, with the final match of the tournament played at the spectacular facilities of the Philadelphia Cricket Club. The festival consists of Twenty20 matches in both a competitive and a casual or social division at the tournament.
This year’s special guest cricketer is South African left-arm spinner Paul Harris. The 33-year-old Harris has played 37 Tests for South Africa, taking 103 wickets at an average of 37.87 including three five-wicket hauls. His most recent appearance for South Africa was in the 2011 New Year’s Test at Newlands in Cape Town against India. One of the festival traditions is for the special guest player to participate in matches with different clubs throughout the tournament and it is expected that Harris will take up the opportunity to play alongside local players this weekend.
Harris will be the fifth former South African international player to attend the festival as a celebrity guest cricketer. Gary Kirsten, Mark Boucher, Eric Simons and Jonty Rhodes have all been welcome guests at the festival since 2000. It had previously been announced by festival organizers that former South African fast bowler Allan Donald would be attending the festival this year but due to his commitments with the IPL’s Pune Warriors he was no longer available to attend.
Autographed cricket memorabilia will be auctioned off during the festival with the proceeds going to benefit youth cricket development initiatives. For more information, visit www.cricketfestival.com.