Supporter in the Spotlight
Q: What was your first overseas Test match?
A: This was before the mighty Addis Army was formed. I went with my dad to Antigua in 1998 and we had a great time with about 5,000 other English supporters at the Recreation Ground in St John’s. It was one of those Tests that we looked like we had saved after a horrible England first innings of 127 and the Windies scoring 500, with Lambert, Lara, Wallace and Hooper having no trouble with the bowling of Caddick, Fraser and Headley. With about two hours to go on the final day and 30 overs we looked comfortable for saving the game after Thorpey and Hussein had forged a partnership of 168. It wasn’t to be after Nasser got stupidly run out and we had a classic collapse after Courtney Walsh savaged us. One afternoon we sat with the legendary Viv Richards which was fantastic but my abiding memory was of Chicky the DJ and his ear shattering music delivered from speakers at the ‘Double Decker Stand’. Full volume would go on as the bowler returned to his starting position and then turned off again as the run up started. The ground announcer had to shout to him to turn down the vibe so he could make himself heard.
Q: What is your most memorable overseas Test match you’ve seen?
A: I think this probably has to be Mumbai 2006, when Wycombe had his head partially shaved because the razor broke and he ended up looking like Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons. We also won the game by 212 runs and for the first time I saw the incredible spectacle of ground that was full to the rafters almost emptying after Sachin got out for just a single.
Q: Who is your favourite current England player?
A: After witnessing the truly incredible innings in Cape Town at the start of this year, the fastest ever 200 for England, this has to be Ben Stokes.
Q: Who is your favourite England player of all time?
A: Graham Thorpe. Wonderful number three batsman and averaged 49 against the Convicts. I forgive him for playing for that mob on the wrong side of the River. I had the pleasure of a chat with him recently at Lord’s. Great guy.
Q: Who is your favourite opposition player of all time?
A: Definitely Viv Richards. Just sensational.
Q: What is your favourite overseas Test ground any why?
A: This is Kingsmead in Durban. Not a particularly picturesque ground but it’s where the Addis Army had our inaugural Test in 2004. It was the funniest and possibly drunkest five days I have ever had in my life. We got robbed of a win though by the light – it’s probably the closest the Blade has ever been to seeing England win away, except maybe Trinidad where he hung around fruitlessly to see a draw after I decided to go back to the beach in Barbados because I knew we couldn’t win on the final day. I’ve been back to Kingsmead twice since, and we won on both occasions. It’s a happy hunting ground.
Q: Which country is your favourite to tour and why?
A: Definitely not Australia. Terrible place. Expensive, overrated and worst of all, full of Convicts. How Mr. and Mrs. Blade tolerate living in this backward nation, I’ll never understand. I’m never going back.
Q: Of all the cities/towns you visited on tour, which is your favourite?
A: I think this is Mohali, India. I shall never forget the amazing Rock Garden which is found in that town in the middle of nowhere.
Q: What is your most memorable non cricket moment on tour?
A: So many memories. I think it was when super-efficient Skipper turned up to Delhi Airport only to discover that the tickets he had booked for himself, Harry and Jim were for a flight that had taken place three months’ earlier. This raised being late for a plane to a new art form and the look on Jim’s face was priceless. Skipper had in fact been having a bad hair day, as earlier that same day he got the sleeper train arrival time wrong and was so sure of himself that he was actually arguing with the train guard that the train couldn’t have arrived in Delhi.
Q: What do you enjoy most about touring?
A: Taking the piss out of Midnight – "You won’t read that in Midnight’s book".