South Africa Tour 2009/10

"Dont mention the war" Englands Pro-20 matches v South Africa - a Pre-touria report?

Having arranged to leave these shores for South Africa on the 29th November it has not been possible to report in person from these pro-20 games.

However , conscious of the need to commence the tour and provide an overseas element to my blog , I am able to report exclusively from Guernsey , Channel Islands where I was able to “enjoy” the whole sordid pro-20 spectacle.

First a little note regarding my local arrangements. For those unfamiliar , Guernsey is an island sometimes described as “ 60,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock” .

The hotel I had booked on the internet was perched on a cliff top overlooking the harbour at St Peter Port and thus benefited extensively from the force twelve gales prevalent for most of the weekend – a veritable Schloss Adler in fact, as the hotel brochure was at pains to inform guests that the property had been used as Headquarters by the German Occupation Forces from 1941-1945.

I found a pair of jackboots , dusty but still serviceable, in the bottom of the wardrobe. The bible in the bedside drawer had been placed by the National Socialist Party of Bavaria. There was a signed photo of Anton Diffring on the wall behind reception.

The Englisher-breakfast was served by blonde attractive slave girls who spoke only in guttural Eastern European accents and I can only assume they were the descendants of the many slave workers transported to the Channel Islands from Russia during the war.

Next door to the Hotel was a Radio Command bunker , used during the war to relay important reports direct to Berlin – including Lord Haw Haw’s scripts probably.

This is now an official tourist attraction , and typically of such Guernsey attractions, open Thursdays and Saturdays only from April to October 2pm-4pm.

I’m sure if this bunker were still being operated by the Abwehr, the opening hours would be more akin to 6am until curfew for 365 days per year.

We chose to watch the first 20-20 game on Friday in a local hostelry called the Drunken Duck.

For once , England batted well , with Eoin Morgan ( from Middlesex , alas ) proving the star of the show , whilst when SA batted some quality pressure bowling from Sajid Mahmood of Lancashire ran him a close second.

England amassed a massive 202 runs but even this target was soon under threat from the South African batsmen.

I suppose if you concede 25 runs from one over on a regular basis ,most targets you set eventually come under threat.

However as the beer flowed in the Drunken Duck , a magical spell of heavy Manchester rain arrived right on cue on the veldt direct from the Irish Sea to allow England to take the game by one run under the Duckworth Lewis method.

In the company of John , PG , George and several of their local friends I regret I was too far under the alcofluence of incohol to see how the computation had been arrived at but accepted the stunning victory nevertheless. I could already visualise the headlines in tomorrows papers.

“England saved by wonderful boundary catch from Sajid Mahmood – oh,and a tropical thunderstorm”.

Wycs , I hope you will be able to conjure up similar back page-fillers when working for the Potchefsroom Bushpost!

Sundays game started earlier at mid-day-again in the Drunken Duck-and just before the off I received a phone call from Son of , indicating that he had not yet arranged his trip to South Africa. Ben, its not like you to be disorganised and leave things to the last minute. Your attendance in SA is mandatory. I have the phone number of the Ethiopian Airways mud booking hut available when you are ready to travel. Or you can contact them by drum.

To the cricket and Sundays game was a real eye opener.

Have you ever realised , after too many beers , what silly names some of the South African players have?

Loots Bosman. Just as well his fathers surname wasn’t Shops-Duringriots.

And that was just for starters.

I will not repeat at length a description of the Guernsey crowd reaction in the pub when Heino Kuhn appeared on our high-definition screen at the crease.

Suffice it to say the reaction was largely politically incorrect, and included many stifled schoolboy giggles.

Personally , I started wondering if his middle name was Beano.

Then we could all call him H.B. Kuhn , as we do with H.D. Ackerman and A.B.De Villiers. A saucy batsman with 57 varieties of shot , perhaps? Takes lots of ketches?

I mean, we in England may not always have the best team , but at least our players have proper English sounding names , like Trott and Prior.

Anyway by the time we had reached our 5th or 6th pint of beer, despite more accurate quality pressure bowling by Mahmood, South Africa had scored far too many runs , and we immediately signalled our surrender by opening the batting with Alastair Cook , who is clearly not a one day player -- and on this showing may prove to be England’s worst captain since Mike Denness.

It would have been quicker & easier to wave a white flag from the dressing room balcony thus avoiding the subsequent fine for slow over rate.

During our innings I received a far from complimentary text message from a gentleman who shall remain nameless (but lives in London somewhere near Tottenham) regarding the bowling of Mahmood.

I would simply remind the said gentleman that we have all been watching the Owais Shah run-out show patiently for the past two years , so please give the poor guy a chance.

My final recollection of the game as our innings subsided was how cruel and unflattering the combination of beer intake by those watching, and the high definition large plasma screen image was, to the Sky commentators.

David Gower looked as if he had a piece of tripe glued to his neck.

Nasser Hussain looked like , well , Nasser.

Bumble looked like an unshaven , spotted turtle.

Time that waits for no man , eh?? Or is that what batting in the middle order for Accrington does to you?

Thanks to everyone on the Island who made my visit very pleasant despite the cricket , especially John, his wife Nicki ( you’ll love cricket after a while Nicki ) , George, who very kindly transported me to the airport for the journey home , and last but not least the SS , Gestapo and the rest of the Occupation forces.

Hope to see as many of you as possible in South Africa over the coming months , and remember……

“ We got twelve Rand to the pound!”


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