Supporter in the Spotlight
Q: What was your first overseas Test match?
A: Kingsmead Cricket Ground, Durban, South Africa.
Q: What is your most memorable overseas Test match you’ve seen?
A: It was at The Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, Pakistan. It had it all. Segregation, not between opposing supporters but opposing sexes, armed guards with machine guns around the England fans in the ground making it a friendly atmosphere and a continuous riot outside as fervent Pakistan fans repeatedly tried to get in the ground beaten back by big sticks in the hands of the Police. An explosion midway through the game inside the stadium sent armed officers all over the ground and onto the pitch. The England batsmen crouched in the middle. It turned out to be an exploding drinks gas canister sending the vendor flying through the air. For the duration of the match after this incident you then couldn’t get any drinks inside the stadium. The armed guards stationed at our hotel (loose description) during our stay added to the atmosphere along with flu like symptoms from the smog. Shahid Afridi cheating and scuffing up the pitch until eventually in the next test he got banned for 2 games. Acquiring a liquor license, heading to the back of a hotel to buy beer and spirits, and then setting up a bar in our hotel room because we had the biggest fridge. Sheep brains and sheep balls curries I could go on……. All in all the most memorable test match for myself ever.
Q: Who is your favourite current England player?
A: Ben Stokes. I just love his attitude and commitment.
Q: Who is your favourite England player of all time?
A: Michael Vaughan for the captaining the big turnaround in English fortunes coupled with the right management team and ending that long Ashes drought.
Q: Who is your favourite opposition player of all time?
A: Lance Klusener. His unique style and no nonsense approach although he was more prolific in the shorter game. The 1999 World Cup lives long in the memory hero to zero in the space of one ball.
Q: What is your favourite overseas Test ground any why?
A: Kingsmead, Durban, South Africa. My first away Test match along with my travel mate Midnight. The people I met and just the pure debauchery and laughs I had over the duration of the match. Unforgettable times and many tales probably covered elsewhere on this site. I’ll never forget Wycombe pushing me down two sets of seats with his drunken swaying and leaving me with an ankle like a cricket ball for the rest of the tour.
Q: Which country is your favourite to tour and why?
A: India. Although air travel is quite good between Indian cities there is something about using the trains and being amongst the hustle and bustle of an Indian train journey. The completely different cultures from one part of the country to the next. Outstanding street food and the best R.T.A’s going. Those who know me will understand what that is! The Indian cricket fans who are that passionate they can at times can be over the top and annoying, this coming from somebody who was rolling around on the floor in a cricket stadium when we beat Australia in 2005. Kettle and pot. It even went off in Mohali when one England fan had enough and switched to hooligan mood after much provocation and us having to haul him out. Overall, brilliant to see people love the game so much.
Q: Of all the cities/towns you visited on tour, which is your favourite?
A: Cape Town, South Africa. The beaches just outside the city with the ice-cold sea, brilliant on a hot day. The Victoria and Alfred waterfront in the city with numerous bars and restaurants. Newlands Cricket Ground with the grass banks although not as good as the Durban grass banks still a great place to watch cricket from and have the occasional pass out from too much sun/beer. Also, the fine selection of cheap catering on offer inside the ground. The giant samosas being the most memorable followed by calamari rings. You can get up to anything you want in Cape Town, it has it all!
Q: What is your most memorable non cricket moment on tour?
A: blagging our way in and walking around the pitch a few days before the Test match at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore Pakistan in 2005. Pakistan were training on the pitch and a few of the players took the time to come over and talk to us including Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shaoib Akhtar. The latter telling us about his time playing county cricket in England and how a certain club was full of ‘slags’ which he seemed to enjoy quite a lot. We also spoke to the late Bob Woolmer the coach of Pakistan at the time who was more interested in our tales through Pakistan rather than any cricketing talk. On this day we were also invited up to the private balcony of a PCB member to watch the test for an afternoon. He fulfilled his offer and we spent an afternoon drinking tea and watching cricket with him. This is on a par with blagging my way into the Iqbal Stadium, Pakistan main entrance through armed guards pretending to be an England coach. It worked and I acquired a box full of Programmes for VIPs only and handed them out to England fans in the stand. There wasn’t many of us so I think most got one.
Q: What do you enjoy most about touring?
A: There are many things I enjoy about touring. The travelling to venues which can sometimes take days is always a good start. Trains, planes, tuk tuks, horse and cart etc etc. Getting to know a city/town over the duration of the test by taking to foot and walking the streets is one of my favourite past times. Moving on to the next venue after a great week in one place is always a good time too, it’s like the fun is starting all over again so giddy time. Meeting locals and talking cricket is also one of my highlights as I prefer to sit in numerous places during a test and spend only a small time sat with the England fans. In some grounds though you have no choice! Barbados springs to mind. Home from home.