South Africa Tour 2009/10

Piet Retief the kind of Boer you never want to meet

Hi everyone

The last day of the cricket at Centurion defies description.

At tea , I was sending text messages to a couple of people along the lines we had a good chance of winning.

Fifteen minutes after tea we were in disarray. What was Pietersen doing with that run - has Owais Shah been retained on the coaching staff to teach running between the wicket?

Ian Bell was very disapointing - must be a strong candidate for being dropped for Durban - so was Prior and also Broad.

Not often I admit this but thank goodness for the durability of Collingwood who saved us once again.

You may have seen us on the grass bank during the last hour and Im afraid to report that even at this match there were a number of numpty football fans spoiling the day for those who perhaps may be more enlightened about cricket. One lad - who shall remain nameless but perports to be a Leicestershire fan despite having apparently never been seen at a game at Grace Road - was throughly abusive most of the afternoon and attempted fruitlessly to sing Barmy Army songs at the wrong time. A girl in the crowd collared him thus:

"Hey mate. We sing that song when we need a Barmy Army wicket. We are seven down. Just think about that for a minute will you"

The response - a moments silence then " We are the Army - the Barmy Army etc etc".

So those of you arriving for Durban and Capetown - you have been warned.

After the excitement of the drawn finish Tremers and myself went for a Chinese in Pretoria with Tom , Tractor and James. A delicious meal was enjoyed by all apart from the expensive wine , which tasted like battery acid. Unfortunately Wycombe was unable to join us. His Saudi employers at the last minute had imposed 800 lines to be done before he was able to enjoy a drink - or at least he told us he had to write an 800 word article about the drawn finish.

I bet the camels were unable to sleep waiting for that!

Instead I brought him back four bottles of Amstel from the Chinese as he was "gagging" for a beer. When we got back , two of these were left in the fridge for the cleaner on our departure in the morning. Even this was not without incident.

After I had emptied the safe of all our belongings Wycombe announced that all his credit cards were missing and insisted upon Tremers and myself " checking everything that had been in contact with his cards in the safe in case they had been caught up".

Thirty minutes later after we had unpacked no sign of the cards. So I had a brainwave and checked the safe. And sure enough there they were propped up against the side wall.Thanks Wycs.

When we dropped Wycombe off at Tom & Tractors backpacker for his onward journey Tom came rushing out to greet him and his large pink case with an embrace like Mary Poppins meeting Dick Van Dyke again despite the pouring rain. Or maybe that was just my imagination working overtime.

Tremers and myself travelled to the Blyde River canyon for some R & R between games.

On the way the bank kindly blocked my cash card , and on attempting to call them from a garage phone box I stood on a piece of glass and cut my foot open. Thankfully , I am already taking enough antibiotics to stun an elephant due to the poisonous spider bite recounted earlier.

Blyde River canyon can only be described as one of the wonders of the world. There are a series of viewpoints along a 20km stretch of road which are mind blowing. I had visited one of these before on holiday in 1996 called " Gods Window."

As I led a salivating Tremers along the steps to Gods Window a huge cloud appeared over the canyon successfully blocking any sort of view- reminiscent of Michael Palins trip to the Rice Gardens in the Phillipines for those saddoes like me who watch this type of documentary.

" Looks like God has drawn the venetian blinds. Liked it better at Hogsback" was the studied response from Tremers.

A meal in a Mozambique styled restaurant followed that night. A couple next to our table were talking and it was obvious the guy was unwell - seriously so - and wanted to go back to the hotel.

Tremers kindly invited his wife to join us when he left and we had a lovely evening with Nina from Swansea. He's always had a soft spot for the Welsh.

We both woke up with a dose of the sh*ts but , despite this we got up at 7.15 am the following morning for a drive and Gods Window was open so when I return to the UK I'll put a photo of the blessed thing on site so you can make your own minds up.

Today has been spent driving down to the Zulu battlefields of Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana via Newcastle , which is a town in Africa with loads of coal mines. I think thats where the saying comes from about coals and Newcastle and all that.

In order to save money Tremers hired a manual car and he has made me use a thing called a gearstick which you are supposed to use in conjunction with something caled a clutch.

When we parked up outside the Badplaas Liquor store I forgot to put my foot on that clutch thing and I could see the owner cowering down behind the counter as our car jerked forward and almost ram raided his store. For some reason Tremers insisted on doing the rest of the driving today.

Anyway tomorrow is our big day - Rorkes Drift. We were offered an alternative tour by a qualified guide in a 4x4 but he wanted to take us to the Spion Kop. I vetoed that for obvious reasons and when he asked us why we sang " Piet Retief the kind of Boer we never want to meet". We lost that one.

However I have all my cliches ready for our cut price trip tomorrow, which I arranged about half an hour ago with a Dutch guy who hates England Cricket and its fans.

"Front rank fire!" " Second rank fire!"


Love Midnight xxx

Click here for other tour diaries