Pakistan Tour (UAE) 2015
How to Lose a Test Match in Forty Five Minutes
Arrival in Dubai
With bated breath, heightened anticipation and not a little trepidation, I set off from Manchester Airport for Dubai and the second Test against Pakistan.
On my arrival at Dubai Airport at 9am, Freddie, Tremers and Mr Blade were all waiting for me - not at the bar, but at Costa Packet Coffee. However, please quickly discard any misconceptions you may have about Dubai being a ‘dry’ country – you will soon see why.
While the lads enjoyed their lattes, a gaggle of fine looking single young ladies passed by us through arrivals at regular intervals, making us wonder if we had arrived in time for the ‘Miss UAE’ competition.
Eventually, a more cynical and world-weary conclusion involving the word ‘game’ was collectively reached.
Unsurprisingly, our hotel was not quite ready to admit us when we rocked up at 10am. So we did what any self respecting cricket fans would do, threw in our bags and jumped in a taxi to find the ‘Dubai Irish Village’, which Freddie had read about in his regular subscription to the Manchester City FC Arabic Newsletter.
When we got to the village, we found a tacky reconstruction of the film set from ‘The Quiet Man’ complete with Pub, Post Office, shops and a duck pond. All it lacked was Maureen O’Hara pulling the pints.
In this Middle Eastern setting, all quite incredible and if I may say so, pretty ludicrous.
By 10.50am we were all indulging in pints of cider and lager outside the fake Irish pub and very soon we were joined by the Bristolian Tufty, who also wasted little time in getting stuck into the scrumpy.
At first I thought the prices in the Irish pub were steep at about £7 a pint, but as it turned out, we had just found the cheapest bar in Dubai.
At about 4pm or at least eight pints later, feeling distinctly woozy, Tremers and I jumped ship and decamped to our hotel, where a drunken exchange of cash, credit cards and passports ensued at the check-in desk.
Meanwhile back at the Irish pub Mr Blade was in party animal mode and was showing no signs of tiring.
Blade, Freddie and Tufty progressed to yet another Irish bar, McGettigans, and the session apparently carried on until about 11pm. This included a random meeting with Australian Umpire Paul Reiffel, who was accosted thus by Mr Blade at the bar:
"Still feeling sore about losing the Ashes, Paul? Shame about that bad light in Abu Dhabi, wasn’t it!”
Back at the hotel odd things were staring to happen.
As I was nodding off, a random member of the hotel staff appeared in the darkness in my bedroom asking if all the facilities were up to scratch. I was sure I had locked the door!
Later, when the Addis boys arrived back from their Irish experience, a disorientated and spannered Mr Blade tried in the dark to climb into my bed. After politely directing him to his own room, the temperature in our apartment became an issue – it was freezing – and it turned out he had no blankets for his sofa-bed.
A search of the wardrobes uncovered a small woolly unwashed prayer mat, which surprisingly Mr Blade declined to utilise.