My Ultimate Tour!
I've just fallen into a deep sleep after a busy summer at Wormsley listening to players moaning about everything apart from their technique (or lack of it!).
Peter Moores the new governor of the ECB and head coach Kevin Pieterson have called me to the ECB head office in Cardiff to ask my advice on a surprise birthday cricket tour of 6 test matches against a world XI for Englands no 1 cricket supporter from Aldershot.
I can go where I like with a full England side as it's a supporters tour but the only stipulation is that we are not allowed to stay in any back packers (that narrows down the choice of accommodation a bit!)
After the statutory leaving meal at the Mowchak in St. Okenchurch we are upgraded onto our Singapore airlines flight to Sri Lanka.
On arrival in Colombo we are chauffer driven by a luxury tuk tuk to the Mount Lavinia Hotel for a couple of nights to acclimatise after just escaping the 6 foot snow drifts that just covered poor old blighty.
After a fabulous meal on the beach and a few too many arrack and dry gingers we climb aboard the Kandy Express for a fabulous 3 hour train trip through the tea plantations. After meeting our wonderful taxi driver from the past, Neil Neil orange peel, he takes us to our B and B called the Kandy Girl Inn, which overlooks the city lake.
The test match at the new Pallokele Stadium is a great spectacle and after we were well looked after yet again with free beers (supplied by Neil again) we scrape a fine victory thanks to the world famous spin twins, Moeen and Adil to win by 7 runs.
After drinking them out of cider at The Pub in Kandy we retire to our rooms before our flights the next day to sunny Mumbai.
After another scenic tuk tuk ride through the streets of Mumbai we find our rooms at the legendary Chateau Windsor Hotel which after its upgrade now plays host to the England team.
After a lovely 1st evening at Gaylords restaurant we retire to the roof top bar and engage in conversation with Englands batting, bowling and fielding coaches Monty Panesar, Ian Salisbury and Phil Tufnell (you sort out who does what).
The short walk to the Wankhede stadium is made even shorter by the day as we trounce the world XI thanks to Ali Cook, who overtakes Sachin's record of test match 100s and Jos Butler who smashed the quickest test hundred off ony 27 balls.
A few celebratory drinks at the Taj Hotel and catching up with Cookie and his manager Andrew Strauss ended a great week in Mumbai.
2-0 after 2 tests. World XI management of John Buchanan and Shane Warne have a few problems to solve.
The 3rd test is in windy Wellington. Luckily we have a few days to relax in Queenstown before the game. We unwind by bungy jumping and hurtling down the Shotover pass in a jet boat. We just manage to sneak in a round of golf at Arrowtown Golf Club where tea total Jessie Ryder is the club pro after giving up cricket due to a lack of trust between him and the whole population of New Zealand.
A fast and furious test match which sees Broad and Anderson both pass 500 test wickets and despite Brendon McCullums 407 off 273 balls England manage to go 3-0 up.
A close decision to have a KFC or go to Peter Jackson's local Chinese restaurant luckily ends up with us having the best Peking Duck on the planet.
So off now to the 42 degrees of Perth for the 4th test and the last ever test match at the WACA. This enables me to catch up with all my old Aussie ex Aston Rowant team mates. A couple of rounds of golf at Secret Harbour and the Vines golf courses followed by a wine cruise up the Swan river sets up the test match beautifully.
On a typical fast and bouncy track our pace attack of Broad, Anderson, Stokes, Plunkett, Jordan, Larwood and Wood forces a 3 day test match victory mainly due to numerous broken bones to the opposition of Warner, Clarke, Yuvraj Singh, Ponting (luckily out or retirement for this match), and Virat Kohli. There are strong rumours that Warner's 17 broken bones were inflicted one evening after he got set upon by Joe Root in the Brass Monkey in Northbridge.
The 5th test is at my favourite ground, the bull ring, in Johannesburg. Staying in Sandton Square by the impressive statue of Nelson Mandela. Lots of great restaurants for our short stay in Jo'burgs Sandton square. A quick trip around the sprawling Soweto to see how the other half somehow manage to live.
£2.50 tickets per day to see us dismantle another world XI - what can't you like about it. Each lunch time after our walk around the ground we bag a spot in the ground by the barbecue, next to the butchers in the ground. Eating the best steaks in the world and only just having the energy to crawl up the chunky and steep steps to our marvellous vantage point. Even Ian Bell manages to get some runs here, apparently dedicating his 300 to his joint mental well being coaches, Trotty and Trezza.
6th test has to be in Barbados. Landing on Friday night just gives us time to get to Oistins fish market for some flying fish and mac pie. A few of the England boys are there too but they are being rather careful as the England dietician and fitness coach, Mike Gatting, is there too tucking into some mineral water and green salad.
We are staying for this part of the tour at the wonderful Crane Beach Hotel, which has my most favourite beach next to it.
Unfortunately the once lively test pitch, but now docile one, has with no ones knowledge been ploughed up by the rasta groundsman and turned into a marijuana field for the new James Bond film.
Determined to not let this spoil the last week of this ultimate tour we try and amuse ourselves by playing golf at Sandy Lane, Royal Westmorland, Apes Hill and the Barbados Golf course. Just managing to find time to take a catamaran trip up the west coast and spending a few hours in the Mount Gay Rum Distillery.
A final meal at Tides Restaurant on the west coast at Holetown before BA jump start the old Concord by the airport and get us back to England where miraculously winter has passed and summer has arrived. Happy Days.
Played 5 won 5 and 1 abandoned without a joint being rolled. Who's making up the next tour?