In the eight years I have been tour manager, this has been the most challenging for me to manage. The weather and transport are two of the factors which I cannot control. Having had a delayed flight by a day at the start of the trip and weather intervening at every opportunity it has been very frustrating. Games washed out, constant rain and as I write we have been sitting on the tarmac awaiting clearance for over 45 minutes because of another deluge. It reminds me of all the issues we had with covid during the West Indies tour in the early part of the Year.
The first game against Afghanistan in Perth wasn’t the most exciting but with Sam Curran taking a five wicket haul got us up and running. Next on the itinerary were Ireland at the MCG. Once again the weather beat us and so did Ireland by virtue of (DLS) at the time England were going well and probably needed a couple of overs to win, but rain put paid to that.
Two days later came the mouth watering game that the tour group were most looking forward to seeing. England v Australia at the G. Several people told me it was on their bucket list and afraid to say it will remain there.. after heavy rain onve again it was a washout. As the tournament progressed we moved onto Brisbane and the Gabba with a do or die match against the Kiwi’s. Every game from here on in is a cup final, the weather followed us there too. A gap in the weather broke and we were able to play, at one stage it was looking very unlikely. England brought their A game to the table and collectively, as a unit we outplayed New Zealand to remain on course for the semi final but first we had to beat Sri Lanka in Sydney where for once the weather was lovely. After a great start by Sri Lanka the bowlers pulled it back and reduced them to 141. We started extremely well with a 71 opening stand then the wheels stated to fall off but a gritty innings by Ben Stokes saw us through.
Before the game we held our event with a three course lunch cruise around Sydney harbour. The star of the show was Adam Hollioake who was most entertaining. This was my first interview with such a big star which I thought, on the whole went very well. According to all the comments I had afterwards it definitely did – he has some great stories to tell. I think the cruise was a much needed lift after all that had gone before.
The lovely weather in Sydney followed us to Adelaide where the much anticipated semi final against India was to be played. This was definitely one of those “I was there games” England bowled extremely tight and were on top for the first 13 overs then Kholi & Pandya started taking out bowling apart, scoring over 10 an over and finally posting 168. I thought they had a few too many for us with all the injuries we’ve had and key player’s not making the trip because of that plus Roy for being completely out of form. I thought we needed 3 to bat well and a few others chipping in if we were to have any hope of a famous victory! Enter stage left as Buttler and Hales put on a batting display that we will remember forever more, everyone of us were drunk with elation. UK TV cameras panned us many times, phones were pinging with photos of them on tv back home. This is what dreams are made of!
Afterwards we all ventured to the local hostelry and celebrated a huge win by 10 wickets with 4 overs to spare, I didn’t see that coming. It certainly helped to improve the moral after all the rain!
We have now reached our final destination Melbourne, for the mouth watering final against Pakistan, with the weather threatening to intervene by some miracle it didnt materialise. It held off for the entire game.
With Jos Buttler winning the toss England elected to field, and with excellent bowling from man of the match and tournament Sam Curren and Adil Rashid they restricted Pakistan to 137/8. A below par score but the ball was doing a bit.
Butter & Hales opened the innings full of confidence after their heroic knock at the Adelaide Oval, Hales was quickly removed by an unplayable delivery from Shaheen. Buttler & Salt steadied the ship until Salt was caught with the score on 32, Buttler followed soon after with another great delivery by Rauf. After the mini wobble Stokes and Brook took us to 84. When Brook clipped Shadab straight to mid wicket where the waiting Shaheen had the simplest of catches Ali joined Stokes at the crease. After a great cameo from Ali he was out caught a very jubilant Ben Stokes hit the winning run and England lifted T20 World Cup to add the 50 over World Cup in 2019.
I do hope you join us on another trip one day. We met the challenges of Australia coming out of lockdown a year later than us head on but failed to reach our normal standards in some areas and for that I can only apologise. They were beyond our control.
All the very best