From Batting on the Bosphorus © 2009 by Angus Bell, published by Greystone Books: an imprint of D&M Publishers Inc.
Serbia’s cricket captain was an MI6 secret agent whom close colleagues described as “the classic gentleman spy.” He helped mastermind the arrest of Slobodan Miloševic and arranged an RAF jet to fly the Balkan dictator to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. And during evenings and weekends he scheduled cricket matches.
Let’s think about this for a second. Not MI5. MI6 . That’s James Bond–level. I wondered if he bagged Miloševic using a cricket trap.
“You available next weekend, Slobodan? Match starts at 12 .”
The article went on to say that the secret agent’s email address had been leaked across the Serbian press. That explained my unanswered letters, then. His cover—running the Belgrade cricket team (very subtle)—had been blown, and he’d since grown a beard and gone into hiding.
Another thought stung me as I read this. Somewhere in my inbox was this poor man’s mobile number. Should I call him and ask where he left the kit? Best not. I searched for the email and deleted it. It was not safe to hold on to such information.
Over the next two weeks, my efforts to track down Serbia’s remaining cricketers proved fruitless. I wrote to soccer clubs on whose grounds they had played. The soccer clubs laughed and told me cricket didn’t exist in Serbia. I contacted the British and Australian embassies, where I imagined cricket to be an important part of their jobs. They said they didn’t have the time to play. All the evidence suggested Serbian cricket was in tatters.
A month later I received an email from a sports journalist in the city of Zrenjanin, in northern Serbia. Milos had been passed my details by the British Embassy. He wanted to found a Serbian cricket league and take his country to the London 2012 Olympics.
“This is my dream,” he wrote. “For a year I am trying to organize cricket club. Zrenjanin is the city of sports, yet when I speak about cricket here, people think that I’ve gone nuts. All my efforts were useless, nobody wants to help me. So, you are my last hope!”