Bangladesh Tour 2010

Escape to Victory

It is day 4 of the Test and this morning, I wake up before the claxon from the Mosque with a sudden need to visit the toilet.


Oh dear, knew I shouldn’t have had that sizzling steak dinner last night!


When we get to the cricket Five – O , who shared my meal last night, seems to be okay and is in good spirits planning his trek tomorrow with Pat and Task.


They are all going on a 24 hour paddle boat excursion to the Sunderbans , the largest unmapped mangrove swamp in the world, in the south of Bangladesh near to the Bay of Bengal.


Just as well Five – O gets on with the local food, as it doesn’t sound as if there will be a Macdonalds there.


The Sunderbans are the sole habitat of the Bengal Tiger, which apparently has an unhealthy appetite for human flesh and according to the guide book, kills and eats about 120 people every year.


I remind Five – O to pack his Tiger repellent.


The most memorable item from the cricket today is a Stuart Broad tantrum , when he “appeals” in a petulant fashion when the batsman has been clean bowled after earlier not getting an lbw decision.


Wycombe makes a great feature of this in his copy and then is forced to retract later and rewrite his article after the potential for legal action is discussed, when Broad explains that he didn’t see the ball had hit the stumps . Wycombe later finds that all the other papers have “published and been damned” so gets scant reward for his admittedly conscientious journalism. He will learn!


That night still feeling fragile I retire early to the bathroom / bed leaving Five – O to become the drunkest man in Dhaka – allegedly.


On day 5 of the Test I rise feeling surprisingly well and hear Jerry in the bathroom.


“ Hey Midnight , the showers broke. I’ve had to use the toilet cleaning hose to wash with”. Fortunately I had already used the shower. This wasn’t broken after all!


On arrival at the cricket Jerry sits alone at the top of the stand for most of the morning whilst Five – O has a classic hangover and more alarmingly , before his marathon trek this afternoon , the sh*ts.


Unfortunately later in the day Five – O , Pat and Task have to leave the ground to catch their boat before the final runs are scored.


I’m sure Five – O will have many runs of his own in the next few hours, and a first class berth on a Bangladeshi paddle steamer will have all the home comforts he will require.


So to the cricket and after a nervous morning waiting for the final Bangladeshi wickets to fall, England are set just over 200 to win in about two sessions and romp to victory helped by a superb century by the much-maligned Alastair Cook , whose captaincy record now reads:


Tests : Played two won two


ODI : Played three won three.


“ One Captain Cook , theres only one Captain Cook “ sing the Barmy Army.


If I were Alastair Cook, knowing the English press , I would “do a Bradman” and retire to become the youngest Sky TV commentator on the box.


As the England players celebrate on the presentation podium , Bob Willis walks below the fans and is greeted by a chorus of “ Boring boring Willis” as he stalks quickly to his TV position. Unsurprisingly , he totally ignores the banter.


Next, Wycombe appears below us with another journalist and they follow Bob’s path round the boundary.


“ Boring boring Wycombe” sing a few of the Barmy Army, ( not prompted by myself , Jerry, Martin & James at all ). Wycombe also totally ignores the banter.


Finally, Derek Pringle lopes round the same path and elicits zero reaction from the fans - which must mean Wycombe is held in higher esteem by them, in my book anyway.


So -- another away win and as these are scarce as rocking horse droppings in my case, I am looking forward to several crates of Heineken by way of celebration when we return to the Grand Prince Hotel.


But when we get back -- disaster.


The Heineken has run out. There is no Heineken at all. In the whole of Bangladesh!


The waiters are adamant.


Instead the waiters are pushing an alternative brand of beer called Barons , which apparently is popular in the Far East ( for stripping paint, probably! ) and is 8.8% proof as opposed to the more modest potency of 4% with Heineken.


The general theory amongst the cricket fans is that the hotel staff have been off shopping to the cash and carry thinking the English will drink anything with lots of alcohol in it and have purchased this battery acid with visions of a higher profit margin.


Unsurprisingly most people buy just one can of Barons and then mix it with Seven – Up to dilute, which isn’t conducive to a victory celebration at all.


As the evening wears on a lot of people drift off to other drinking venues.


But not Duggie. Who must be the only person on the roof able to stomach this so-called beer.


“ Im Barons till I die “ Duggie sings happily , and orders can after can.


Fortunately for those remaining on the rooftop the waiters were lying about the dearth of Heineken in Bangladesh and more cans later become available to be greedily consumed by those left unaffected by Barons.


What the hotel did with the unsold crates of Barons beer nobody ever found out , but I hope they are still in stock and within sell-by date by the time the Australians tour Bangladesh!


Most people we know are leaving that night, so goodbyes are said and in the morning myself and Jerry set out on an independent tuk-tuk tour of Old Dhaka , which is not as easy as it sounds.


As we are unable to communicate to the tuk-tuk driver outside our hotel where we want to go, a map is obtained from reception which proves to be of little use. The driver cannot read , therefore it stands to reason he cannot make sense of a map either – this could be interesting!


Eventually we set off and our Dodgem of Death ( sorry Wycs I borrowed one of your headlines ! ) takes about 90 minutes in sweating , sweltering heat to reach the bridge over the River Buriganga , otherwise known to geography students as the River Ganges.


We get out.


We look over the parapet and take photographs.


On one side of the river they are making cement next to the water on a large scale and the JCB doing the mixing actually has its tracks in the water.


On the other side of the river washing of clothes is being done by bashing the garment on a stone then hanging it out to dry on washing lines over a festering fly-tipped rubbish dump.


In the middle of the river all manner of clapped-out old vessels ply up and down loaded to the gunnels with coal , cement and other industrial products.


The colour of the river water is as black as the coal being ferried.


TV documentary programmes like Ganges and Himalaya always make out that The Ganges is some kind of magical, mystical holy River of Life flowing down from the high mountains into the Bay of Bengal.


Well I’d like to put the record straight.


In Dhaka anyway, it is a noisome sewer of effluent seeping painfully down to the sea.


A River of Death.


As we are leaving Bangladesh that night we pick up a copy of the local paper at the airport and it seems Alastair Cook is once again causing trouble , this time being involved in a boat accident on the River Buriganga.


The flight home is both disgusting and hilarious , as we are virtually the only westerners on board in economy class. When the gate opens for boarding most of the locals push and jostle to ensure they get on board then dive straight into the Business class seats and have to be evicted bodily by the stewardesses.


I manage to restrain myself from using the toilet until 4 hours into the flight…………..!!!


This short tour has been a most memorable experience ….. bring on Australia!



DHAKA DAILY STAR 26th March – CARETAKER CRICKET CAPTAIN CALAMITY COOK CAPSIZES CORACLE IN CANAL CROSSING CARNAGE


Regards
Midnight xxx




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