Pakistan Tour (UAE) 2015
How to Lose a Test Match in Forty Five Minutes
Mr Blade and I are checking out of the hotel this morning and have agreed to leave our bags in the room of Freddie and Tremers until we go to the airport at around midnight. But when we arrive at their room with our cases – Panic in the streets of Wormsley. Panic in the streets of Stokenchurch.
Tremers has lost his passport, and the lads are busy turning the room upside down trying to find it – shades of Wycombe in Pretoria 2009.
Later, a visit to reception turns up the missing document, which I am sure Tremers must have left there when we checked in, although his entirely plausible theory is that the cleaner must have swept it up in their room and taken it down to reception for safekeeping!
All present at the cricket for the final knockings and after the middle order fail once more, we are pleasantly surprised in the afternoon by a very solid rearguard from England, starring Broad, Wood and Rashid.
The draw becomes tantalisingly close, but at last a loose shot from Rashid and we are finally dismissed with less than ten overs left in the days play.
Back then to Mc Gettigan’s for Guinness, goodbyes and final debriefs from this performance.
The umpires from our game and their wives are once again present and they are joined later for drinks by Grant Flower. At first glance it looks odd that the Pakistan batting coach is drinking with the umpires, but when you think it through, who else could he have a drink with in the evening?
So what have we learned from this game?
Nothing really that we did not already know:
1. Moeen Ali is not an opener. He needs to move back down the order. Hales needs to be tried, at least.
2. Buttler is hopelessly lacking in confidence and form and consideration must be given to dropping him and handing the gloves to Bairstow.
3. A position needs to be found to accommodate James Taylor in the batting line up and I would now do this at the expense of Ian Bell who continues to disappoint. Sorry, Tremers.
4. We need a spinner who can hold down one end. The present incumbents are unable to do this.
In terms of the venue I’m afraid Dubai will not be featuring in my list of top three Test match destinations.
The stifling heat, the disconsolate surroundings, the pudding pitches, the difficulties getting to and from the ground (even The Rose Bowl is easier) , the ridiculous stewarding, the lack of atmosphere and the cost of a pint make this a trip for the hard core England fan only, as borne out by the poor attendances.
Higgy, who must have the patience and stamina of a saint, has already been to Abu Dhabi and is staying on to do the next match in Sharjah, where he will be joined by Five-O in addition to his Barmy Army pals Robbo and Chris.
Respect – I don’t think I could do it.
To the airport where Mr Blade and myself fly off in opposite directions, soon to be followed by PC Tintin, Tufty and Luke, with Tremers and Freddie the next morning.
My flight from Dubai to Manchester sees me sat amongst an extended Bengali family with lots of children who seemingly do not require sleep, so I am completely shagged out by the time we hit Manchester airport.
Waiting at the baggage carousel, bereft of pound coins, I try to obtain a luggage trolley from the pay machine, but this is malfunctioning and will not accept notes. Just as I am about to give the machine a hefty kick I receive a tap on the shoulder and on turning round, I see a well known Scouser who kindly gives me a pound coin to operate the machine and enable a trolley to be released.
God bless you, John Bishop, although I don’t wish to see any jokes about Scousers giving Mancs donations in any of your future shows!