Tours are a staple of the world of club cricket. Here are some ways it can go down. From the archives.
Not the glamorous international tour you were hoping for, but they breed their sportsmen tough over the Severn Bridge. So tough, in fact, that you didn’t win a single game. Your worst loss came on the Sunday after a heavy night out in Cardiff. Everything started to go downhill after your chirpy wicketkeeper challenged a local rugby team to a boat race and then proceeded to upset the biggest lad on their team with an ill-advised comment about egg chasing. As all hell broke loose, you found refuge in the toilets, hiding from a group of men 10 years your junior, wondering where it all went wrong.
After the initial confusion and disappointment – you misread the letter and thought you were going to the University of East Anglia – you couldn’t wait to get out to the desert. With the team motto of ‘We’re here to sheikh things up a bit’ written on a large St George’s flag, the lads looked a bit out of place in the Emirates Business Class Lounge (your chairman has more money than sense) and even more so when you were all kicked out of the Burj Khalifa after Deano got into an argument with a security guard about its status as the world’s tallest skyscraper. Apparently he’s “seen bigger”. He’s now also seen the inside of a Dubai jail cell.
Cornwall’s really far away, isn’t it? So far away that a couple of the younger lads brought their passports “just in case”. The journey seems to drag on forever. You hate roads – motorways, A-roads, that one you bowled on last July when the opposition’s minor counties player hit 150. The only positive of the seemingly never-ending drive is that you’ve really got your eye-in after all the car-park cricket you’ve played at the various service stations on the M5 and A38. When you arrive at the Travelodge you get told to dump your bags and get ready to head to the beach. To your horror, you discover that your skipper’s booked everyone a surfing lesson. The water’s freezing. You wish you were still on the bus…
Next stop: God’s Country. The home of proper cricket, Joe Root, Geoff Boycott, flat caps and, erm, kestrels? You were looking forward to some hard-fought cricket up north, but forgot just how much it rains up there at this time of year. In fact, it rained so much you didn’t get a full game in. You know it’s been a bad tour when the highlight of your trip was sitting in a Huddersfield pub (in full whites, of course) and successfully cashing out on your accumulator moments before a bet-ruining Southend equaliser at Charlton. That £35.96 got everyone on the team a pint as well as three bags of crisps and some pork scratchings to share. The north’s great.
“Don’t need to bring your cricket bag for this one, boys!” the text from your chairman ominously reads. “We’re off to Maga!” It’s the classic lads on tour scenario – pints and Jägers in the airport, more beers on the plane and even more booze at the hotel upon arrival. Despite the overall trashiness of your surroundings – the floor was so sticky in BCM you lost a flipflop and you attempted more shots in Stereo Bar than Glenn Maxwell during a powerplay – it was a great team bonding experience. Your overseas is from a town in rural Pakistan and doesn’t drink, but he was still out with the lads every night, belting the lyrics to Wonderwall on the strip at 3am. He’s going to fit in just fine.