According to Gary – our man on tour with England Cricket
If you haven’t already met Gary, the International Cricket Tours Tour Rep, then you’ve missed out on a gem of the cricket touring world. His mild-mannered charm and keenness for what he famously calls a ‘jolly up’ make him a real asset to our team and the reason we’ve chose him to be our man on tour with England Cricket.
He is now permanent rep for our up coming England Cricket tours to Sri Lanka this autumn and for West Indies next winter 2019 giving it his all. Our Gary will be there making sure you catch all the unforgettable cricket action as well as taking in the must-have experiences of these 2 incredible countries which are known for hosting amazing England Cricket tours.
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21st March 2019
Firstly I would like to apologise for the lack of blogs, the reason being is that I was having such a great time with all the clients new and old on an extremely busy tour I couldn’t fit it in!
I did start writing but there was so much going on that was as far as I got! But now I’m back in Blighty I will publish a two part round up firstly……….. The test series…….
The tour kicked off in Barbados, all of us expecting a clean sweep of victories, on the eve of the match I had a conversation with Dominic Warne from WICB who said WI had improved considerably since our last visit especially Jason Holder and also added for the first time in recent years, they had a good change of bowlers! He was not wrong. Whether it was that or a combination of England not being fully prepared and that the expectation amongst the players was that they would roll over I don’t know. We were well beaten and with only Ireland to play before the Ashes, who are probably not the strongest opposition, it does not bode well but we have to play them sometime.
We had many events starting at the fabulous Copacabana in Barbados with a Q&A which included Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, & the most recently knighted cricketer Sir Charlie Griffith. Dominic our 3rd tour manager, as ever, did a great job asking a variety of questions extracting some controversial replies from our guests. Many of the questions were gathered from the tour group.
Our next event was something completely different, a party at Gordon Greenidge’s house! A typical Caribbean house party with plenty of local food and rum punch flowing. Gordon held an auction for a cricket bat signed by Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Wes Hall, Desmond Haynes, Cammie Smith and of course Gordon to raise money for local projects which was very well supported by our 50 plus clients who attended.
We had our second customer cricket match at Carlton CC – Desmond Haynes home ground – which produced some interesting play! We managed to get two mixed teams out, had a good match, a few beers afterwards and raised some much needed funds for the club!
Sara organised a trip for the ladies who were not going to cricket on day 2 which included a pottery, art gallery, commercial flower nursery and lunch on the east coast at the oldest hotel on the island……
Probably the highlight of events was our beach party in Antigua, starting off with Spirited band with the lead guitarist being none other then Sir Richie Richardson. Curtly Ambrose is normally the bass player but was in Australia competing in Dancing with the Stars so sadly he was not there. Dominic ran a fascinating Q&A with Sir Richie and Sir Andy Roberts. Another auction took place for one of Judith Pedersen’s wonderful paintings with the proceeds going to The Childrens Cricket Charity run by Tamara from Australia. She shipped an entire container of kit to the island for distribution to schools and clubs. Then it was back to the dance floor, with a sunset backdrop, typical Caribbean barbecue even our Richard was involved. I did take the mickey, but to be honest he was quite good! It all ended far too early but with dawn flights to St Lucia or a catamaran cruise in place for many the next day we all went home to bed. Luckily the video of me dancing during the ODI’s taken by my friend Chris Gayle will not be published in this blog but watch this space!
St Lucia played an important part in the series, a new destination for most and the first time an England Test had been played there which made our win even sweeter. At the Harbor Club in St Lucia, we had our end of tour dinner. Another Q&A with Dean Wilson & Darren Gough who was excellent and highly entertaining. This was a very special evening which completed a great tour, to finish the evening I was presented with a cake, for a poignant birthday.
Once again it was great to catch up with old friends and meet new friends, I have already had a few calls on my return, please keep in touch, I love hearing from you…..This summers Whats App group will be in action shortly so we can meet up around the grounds featuring ICC World Cup and Ashes matches.
The Caribbean kicks off with what promises to be a great year for England Cricket!
Just a couple of weeks to the much anticipated West Indies tour. I have been inundated with messages by those who have been with us before and cant wait to set off again on this the longest England tour of the West Indies for a long time. Excitement seems to be the general consensus!
We had a great summer beating India and following on with a big win in Sri Lanka. Having just seen India beat the Aussies in their own backyard England will chomping at the bit to get revenge over their arch rivals in the summer. Prior to that we have the World Cup. I firmly believe we are the best side, having thrashed Australia away and at home, India and then Sri Lanka away we are in great shape, but we must keep our concentration in the knockouts. I’m sure they will be reminded what happened against Pakistan…. how many times has the underdog run off with the gold in any sport?
The test side is going through a transitional period, with the announcement of the Chef’s retirement so before I continue I must congratulate him on his knighthood which is fully deserved, I did call for it in a previous blog so I am delighted for him!
With Ben Foakes coming in as wicket keeper, pressure will be in Johnny Bairstow to score runs with the bat. I don’t want to go over old ground as I have mentioned this before, but I will. I still think Jason Roy has a chance in test cricket, so let’s see how that pans out, we do need to unearth a few quickies, with Broad and Anderson in the autumn of their careers, but that’s for another day!
I’m thoroughly looking forward to the Caribbean, the team are busy putting the finishing touches to what promises to be an exciting tour, I know it’s Sara’s favourite. As you know we have a lot planned and I’m sure after the day’s game we will retire to the bar for a Rum Punch or 2 and chat about the day’s cricket! We have Judith our resident artist painting water colours actually live in the ground. Here is a link to her earlier work in Australia and Sri Lanka.
Away from the cricket this is a photo of myself and a very good friend Neil Smith a long time Chelsea supporter and author of “Where were you when you were shocking?” I thought I should plug his book. I have known Neil for over 40 Years we used to travel to a lot of away games together which is what the book is about. I know there are a few Chelsea fans who travel with us and although I try not to mix football with cricket it is a great read. It makes you appreciate the good times after spending several years in the doldrums.
I hope you have a safe flight to the West indies and we look forward to meeting you all on what will be a momentous tour!
8th December 2018
This year has been an amazing year in terms of England cricket team. When we arrived in Brisbane a little over a year ago we were all excited that possibly England could pull off a shock win. I for one thought we had a great chance with three new players coming in. Sadly all have since all been dropped due to lack of runs. The team was clearly undercooked…. the ODI’s against the Aussies were completely different, they took it to them and hammered them in their own backyard. The New Zealand test went the same way – all out for 58 in Auckland hence we lost the series. We were better in the ODI’s once again winning 3-2.
I have taken some stick, due to my support of Surrey, as I keep calling for Jason Roy to be given a chance in test cricket. Bairstow is now at three, we seemed to have played the whole world and now just awaiting the dog to play there! Roy really took it to the Aussie bowlers and I do think at some point he has to be given the chance! Root has said on many occasions he wants to bat at four, after six or seven overs he seems to be at the crease, I think there is a lot of potential changes to the lineup which I’m sure will unfold in due course!
In the summer we said our goodbyes to England’s greatest ever batsman in Alistair Cook. I would had liked him to go after the record but when you know you have no more to give then the time is right to move on. I was lucky to be at the Oval for his innings and witnessed a very emotional day! The way England beat India to win the series was outstanding, everyone played a part in the tests and ODI’s.
Sri Lanka would turn out to be completely different in conditions not conducive to England. We were aided by Leach and new wicketkeeper Ben Foakes who both played magnificently. I did say to the group he could make the transition from county to international cricket having seen him impress during the season and was integral part of Surrey winning the championship. I expected a big win and wasn’t surprised. Sri Lanka are not the team they were and could take as long as the West Indies to become a force again!
Next year is a huge year in Cricket- we start with a glorious trip to the Caribbean, so many events already planned for you to enjoy. I expect us to sell out, so please don’t delay if you want to go or you may be disappointed.
2019 is Ashes and the World Cup, I’m sure we will welcome the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the Australian side, just like we were welcomed in Australia with the #BeatEngland slogan! I’m sure it will be an enthralling summer of cricket and I expect England will be triumphant in the Ashes. The World Cup won’t be easy but I agree we are firm favourites,. I think the biggest dangers to England are India and Pakistan and of course being England we do have a self destruct button. We will need to dispatch Pakistan in style, they hammered us in the ICC trophy and we need to be better prepared or it could go the same way. Winning becomes a habit so does loosing. If England loose it will be a hammer blow and could affect our chances in the World Cup!
Over the last three or so years, I have met so many lovely people on our tours and had the most amazing time hosting you all. This week we received a testimonial from Bruce who wrote, “a lot of the group can be ‘serial tourists’ and have used ICT before but if it’s your first time or umpteenth time, you join the tour as strangers and leave as friends” for me it is just that. Bruce has become a friend during the tour of Sri Lanka as well as many others. I do try and keep in touch with as many of you as I can and receive regular texts, calls and emails from many of you which I thoroughly enjoy.
27th November 2018
With most of the ODI group departing for home except a few who went on to the iconic Galle cricket ground. With the backdrop of the historic fort it is one of the most picturesque grounds in world cricket. England started by calling up Ben Foakes as cover for the injured Johnny Bairstow, which apparently he picked up playing football!! Will they ever learn? What will it take to stop it? A career threatening injury?
With the match sold out and the fort looking its glorious best with English flags draped over the edge. Hordes of English supporters were filling every vantage point. News filtered through leading up to the match that it could be the last test match held, because of the Pavilion not being in keeping with the fort area and could loose its Unesco World Heritage status because of it!
Once again England won the toss and batted first in what was Rangana Herath’s last game before retirement. After a few cheap wickets with England slipping to 103-5 before lunch Foakes steadied the ship with a superb 107 on debut. From that moment on England looked in complete control and won by 211 runs to end a 13 match loosing streak away from home and also winning for the first time in Galle.
During the test we held a Q&A at Le Grand (Galles’s newest luxury hotel) with Mike Gatting as our guest , canapés and cocktails with Andrew Maidstone presenting the questions. What a great job he did! The Butterflys team decorated this stunning location with our branding creating the perfect setting and a great night was had by all!
On the Sunday the 11th of November before some left for home there was a very moving memorial service at the fort by the tower with readings of soldiers that had died in both world wars. Wreaths were laid before a two minute silence and the last post was played by Billy the trumpeter!
Off we went to the Farm resort and Mandira at Hatton – a collection of Planter’s Bungalows which have been carefully restored to ensure that they radiate the revelry of the British Raj. The Nuwara Eliya district is stunning we stayed in luxurious bungalows and were waited on hand and foot. The tea capital of Sri Lanka has stunning views and the odd waterfall you could loose yourself in and we certainly did for a few days en route to Kandy. We stopped at a local liquor store one night to stock up the bungalows with a few beers, several locals were well on their way to being unconscious drinking lager and stout with 8.8 alcohol content!
Then it was chaos in Kandy, not of our making but by Aitken Spence did not confirm the hotels for the teams so we played a game of musical hotels which was not fun! Especially for me staying at the Queens right in central Kandy next to the mosque with prayers blasting out at 04:30 every morning. In return all those who were relocated to outlying hotels had a photo with the England team as an apology and thank you!
So! To the 2nd Test and yet again J. Root called the toss correctly and once again we batted. England found batting a bit difficult with only Butler & Curran playing a particularly good innings. After Sri Lanka batted we found ourselves 46 behind on the first innings total. Our 2nd innings was much better with Root top scoring with a sublime 124 probably his best innings to date! England quickly took 3 wickets before their middle order restored the balance and England took the remaining wickets in the morning to wrap up their first series win away for 3 Years!
Next stop Dumbulla for more temples an elephant safari, Sigaria Rock climbing and a local village tour before moving on to Columbo for the final test.
Remarkably J.Root called correctly for the 13th successive time and once again we batted, and as per usual we were two down early and Root was at the crease, this test will be remembered for the amount of no balls being bowled. Bairstow making 110 and Sri Lanka giving early Christmas presents in abundance away to England loosing 9 wickets for 67. So a 3-0 whitewash Benjamin (Guy) Foakes deservedly man of the series.
The entertainment was not just about the cricket – once again we had an enthusiastic and passionate group, a lot of fun and laughs along the way. I would like to thank our very own Coco the Clown who kept us amused with his dress sense and the tricks just kept coming! Big thanks to another great group of people on this tour, friendships once again being made. Bruce for his blogs and Don for the photography both have been spectacular.
I’m off home in two days where I will be busy in the office preparing for the wonderful trip we have planned in the Caribbean, there is still time to book.
Hopefully I will see old and new friends who have been on tour with us on the 19th December at the George 1V pub, Chiswick!
All the best
England continue to build towards the World Cup, but still have work to do!
England looked good albeit they were very shortened matches due to the rain, and one washout, the one game that we lost was a humiliating record breaking loss by a very average Sri Lankan side. Gone are their stars of yesteryear, with the likes of Sangakkara, Murali, Jayasuriya to name a few. They have a lot of work ahead of them but still managed to make England look like a disorganised rabble. Without the leadership of Eoin Morgan, it lacked the will to win, granted the series was already won, but remember Pakistan in the ICC Trophy? We do have an outstanding squad of players and those who are given the chance need to grasp it with both hands, the ones that want it more and have a will to succeed will come to the top. Michael Jordan once said there is no I in team but there is an I in win!
So we have said our emotional goodbyes to another great group, many friendships have been forged and I think great times has been had by all. Nobody said anything to the contrary to suggest otherwise. We had our inaugural cricket match – even Keith got into the act with two slips finishing up physically in the gully, before we found the best position for him as the scorer, with a pint and no danger of him falling over!
Having Hoggy on tour with us was a real coup, he was entertaining, knowledgeable and always the first to pitch in to anything that was required to make the trip go well.
Moving on from the cricket match we had our first Karaoke night which, with Steve’s help became more of event. Commencing with a surprise Q&A between Hoggy & Sir Richie Richardson which was an added unexpected bonus and huge success. Everyone was in the spirit of things before Steve opened up with Rhinestone Cowboy. The evening was great fun, although I doubt we would worry the judges in X Factor!
We also had our inaugural golf day, which finished all square. Hoggy did mention one being a bandit but enjoyed the golf at a great course just outside Kandy!
The end of tour dinner with Q&A at the Singhalese cricket ground with Hoggy interviewed very professionally by Mike Prentis (I think he might have a role to play there) started another great evening. We shared so many drinks & dinners together, not even the rain put a dampener on the tour. Some had bespoke itineraries and those on the group tour enjoyed the numerous site seeing opportunities which were included which gave us more of an insight to this great country.
I hope to see you all the ODi clients again, some are going on to Galle. I expect England will do well in the tests after a great series win over India in the summer. During the gap between Series I’m of fishing for 5 Days with JR Hartley aka Keith..
I would finish by saying it was a pleasure meeting you all, keep in touch and big thanks to Matthew Hoggard!
All the best,
15th October 2018
This tours feels like it’s been going on forever yet we are only a week into it.
I have s aid this so many times but once again the group in Sri Lanka are a lovely. Everyone is having a great time, there has been a lot of laughs and the odd beer, many friendships have been formed, and Hoggy and I have thoroughly enjoyed their company. So far, we have climbed Sigiriya Rock, visited a museum & temple, taken a local village tour which included a canoe trip followed by lunch in a village and an elephant safari which wowed everyone..
After a washed out first ODI, England scratched there way to 278 thanks to Joe Root 71 & Owen Morgan 92 to go 1-0 up and head to the Pallekele International Cricket stadium in Kandy.
We held our inaugural cricket match at Jetwing Lake, against Jetwing staff. Craig drew the short straw and was the captain, he lead the team with such authority. We were 19 runs after 2 overs!
The team was Harry, Kevin, Robert, Gary, Eric, Keith, Paul, Peter, Chris, Hoggy & Craig. Jetwing batted first and totalled 128 in reply we made a dashing 19. Thanks to Keith’s excellent scoring – giving them a run for every dead ball. All I can say on that is, there must have been a pint in it for him! 3 of us then filled in for the Jetwing side against Howzat, we all took wickets in that match so clearly an improved performance from the first game where I should have had a wicket but with Paul’s impression of David Seaman it was spilled. Maybe I should have done the some of his bowling?
So as we head for Kandy and nearing the halfway stage it’s time for the Oranges😊
16th September 2018
I originally wrote this blog before Alistair Cook decided to call stumps on his illustrious England career prior the last test at the Oval, Alastair signed off scoring 147.
To bookend his career with his century in his first innings at Mumbai, I was extremely lucky to have been there on the 4th day which was charged with much emotion. Never have I experienced so many standing ovations in sport! It was one of those “I was there” moments – he achieved many records but to play in 160 consecutive tests is remarkable. The numbers he has achieved are in the history books. It’s only when you take a few minutes to think about the history of our beautiful game then you remember the greatest English batsman who have gone before. From the very first test at the Oval when WG Grace scored 152 against the Aussies in 1880 since then we have had batsman with the likes of Hutton, Jardine, Hammond, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Barrington, Compton, May, Boycott, Gower, and Botham to name a few. It’s when you see names like those you realise what he has achieved – top run scorer of all time! I was at MCG when he had been going through a baron spell but scored 244. Personally I think the only way to say thank you to Alastair Cook would be to offer him a knighthood! The emotions did not end there, James Anderson taking the last wicket with the last ball to become the leading wicket taker for seamers. I would like to think he will be close to 600 by the end of the Windies tour an absolutely great achievement!
After a 4-1 victory against India albeit a bit faltering, but a highly competitive test series played in a great spirit which will surely live in the memory for so many reasons. A script like no other can only enhance test cricket in India and show here that test Cricket is very much on the up. Sam Curran had an outstanding test series. As a Surrey member and having seen quite a bit of him, I’m sure he will turn into one of England’s great all rounders but I feel he will end up being better with the bat!
Our attentions are now firmly on the winter series in Sri Lanka, and who has the job of trying to follow the chef at the top of the order, and then the eagerly awaited tour of the West Indies
The Sri Lanka tour is continuing to be a big success with packages selling well. So if your interested in joining myself and Mathew Hoggard we still have spaces available.
So, on to the Caribbean…….we already have some events planed, Catamarans, beach cricket, and our inaugural client cricket match hosted by Kenny Benjamin at Liberta CC in Antigua and another in Barbados hosted by Desmond Haynes at Carlton CC. We also have a golf day hosted by Richie Richardson and a beach party at a brilliant venue In Antigua. This promises to be an extremely popular tour, we do expect to sell out, and have been inundated with phone calls and emails for this tour so please don’t dwell and wait or you might be disappointed. We have always had great tours to the Caribbean and this year we are raising the bar even further to make it a tour of a lifetime in the Caribbean ! So please join Sara, Richard, Dominic , our celebrities and I in the West Indies in 2019!😊
All the best
22nd June 2018
As we await the Dates for the West Indies tour 2019, we are still busy with Sri Lanka
With the dates for the West Indies almost upon us we have been holidaying in Antigua and Barbados, but as we like to be busy we are constantly working at making sure all you guys have the most amazing time on tour. A lot of work has already been done behind the scenes for the tour. We will be having our inaugural cricket match & barbeque hosted by Kenny Benjamin. We are working with Richie Richardson towards a Golf Day as well as circumnavigation Catamaran around the island. We will have party’s with Sir Richie Richardson to support his charity and we have found the most amazing place to hold a private beach party with a band and more. We hope to add many more events to make this a truly memorable trip to the Caribbean as we wont be back for 4 years. We will of course be working with several of West Indies legends from Barbados and Antigua. We have visited the WICB at their office in Antigua and also the grounds to confirm the location of our boxes. the catering and the best seating in the stands.
Please call the office to discuss what you would like as soon as possible as this ever popular tour fly’s once dates are released and we don’t like to disappoint.
With England taking the ODI game to new heights , why not come to Sri Lanka and see the team for yourself? We have made provision for more space as the demand to watch increases as the summer passes. It is an 18 day ODI tour, great value, action packed and escorted by Matthew Hoggard
As I mentioned above the dates for the WIndies tour are expected by end month, we have been inundated with enquiries for the tour, so if you are interested don’t hesitate it will be great tour!
When I was in Australia & New Zealand for 5 Months Sara spoke to me about this game taking place and felt it was a great opportunity for helping our friends in the Caribbean and for a reunion of old and new friends. On my return to the office I was amazed to see we had over 70 coming and it was lovely to see many from the trip to Australia on the list. I knew it was going to be a special night and it did not disappoint. I had an amazing time catching up with friends from previous tours and a few who I had not met before. It was just an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon/evening…. a huge success, not only were old friends reconnected it was also for a great cause. I have said so many times but it really feels like one big family rather then a business. I have been in touch with quite a lot of you since my time down under and it is such a great feeling having friendships with such like minded passionate people. Maybe the match was a bit one sided which sadly ended with Afridi using a runner and Mills injuring his quod and unable to bat. After post match drinks and a short journey home I had an invite from Chris Gayle to go to the after match party but to be honest I had such a great time with you all and consumed more then I normally would so I declined the chance of a West Indian Jolly Up! No doubt I will see him during the summer!
Hopefully Anguilla and Dominica will now have the funds to repair the stadiums caused by Hurricane Irma & Maria in 2017. We will be offering pre and post match visits to anyone who travels to Antigua with us – it’s a wonderful island – Cardigan Connor took the time to pop in and promote the island and will be ensuring that any clients who book will be well looked after and introduced to the islands hot spots by Omari Banks and himself on an evening of choice. To donate please click on this link https://tinyurl.com/y8p2ujfw
A lot has been written about the decline in the test side. I do think England need to change things around. I’m not convinced we have the right batting & bowling coaches, I am also a great believer in the only way to get back in form is to play County Cricket not have a weeks rest, I would also like to see England do away with the football warm ups, I have never been to Stamford Bridge and seen Chelsea playing Cricket pre kick off, and of course your liable to pick up an Injury. All the stick Cook received as Captain is unwarranted. Are we any further forward under Root then Cook? In my opinion we are not, personally I feel because of the way the team has performed it has had an effect on the ones that were in good-nick. There has never been a better opportunity for youngsters playing county Cricket to have a chance to represent England. if you want it enough take the batten prove your worth by scoring centuries and take fifers and you will receive a chance!
Sri Lanka is still selling very well so if you are interested give Richard or Sara a call and join me and Hoggy for the ODI’s or myself, Richard and Sara for the tests, it would be great to see you there! Our hotels are hand picked with proximity to the ground being on of the most important criteria. Traffic in Sri Lanka is a nightmare at times.
Finally we are always being asked about the Caribbean dates, we are told it will happen soon by the WICB and you guys will be the first to know, we have a great deal planned and will surely be a memorable tour!
All the best
16th April 2018
I’ve been back from Australia & New Zealand a week and it has been wonderful catching up with you all…
Last Monday I started back in the office, fully rejuvenated after a weekend of Jolly ups ‘Real Ale’ on the menu and catching up with close friends. I really wanted to ring you all to hear about your experiences of the Oz & NZ tours. The response I have had has been amazing after making close to 200 calls. The itinerary’s were varied beyond belief. Richard and Sara picked up many compliments on their work and there were a few for me too for which I am deeply touched. Obviously with a tour of this size there were one or two small hitches which were dealt with to everyone’s satisfaction. What I discovered was, that so many friendships were formed during the tour and that goes for me too! . We appear to have created a real family feel to what we do. So many of you have made friends that during the calls I was asked who is going on what tour and what was I doing in the summer.
With that in mind, I have decided to put together a summer WhatsApp group, so, if I was going to, say, Trent Bridge on the 19th June, I could stick it on the WhatsApp group and wait to hear who else is going with the intention of meeting up. I was amazed so many of you are going somewhere to watch England, if you do meet up with someone from our tours I would love to see photos on there – especially with the polo shirts! If you would like to be added please just WhatsApp, text or email or call me 07795 961678 I would be delighted to hear from you! As of yet I do not have any Internationals to go to but hope to add something to my diary. I was so focused on the tour ahead I did not even think of summer at home.
Lastly I look forward to seeing many of you at Lords reunion on the 31st May for the fund raiser game. I am trying to arrange a reunion in the North so watch this space, if we do, we will send emails and I will put it on all WhatsApp.
Thanks again to you all, I know I will see some of you during the summer which I am very much looking forward too.
Sri Lanka tours are selling very well over 70 to date I was amazed to see who is coming and that 12 of you have so far booked when I was still in Oz/NZ. We expect Caribbean dates out by mid May, we have a lot planned for this tour and it will surely be one not to be missed!
Have a great Cricket summer I will be at the Oval watching Surrey as a member so if you’re going please get in touch!
All the best
4th April 2018
The winter tour has finally come to a close, I won’t write too much on Christchurch except New Zealand did what England failed to do in Auckland – bat out for a draw. I hope a few lessons will be taken on board by the management team and give us something to improve on. Smith, Warner and Bancroft gave us much to discuss when play was abandoned and the Barmy Army with Billy come up with a great new song about the culprits above. Ross Taylor signing sandpaper gave us a hilarious moment during the match.
On the 19th November I finally arrived in Brisbane at midnight for a mammoth tour I had never experienced before.
I think a lot of you will not have realised how emotional I am when you go home or depart for another part of your dream trip. I feel much affection for you all and am very passionate about what we do. My flight is tomorrow (Thursday) at 6 and arrive home Friday afternoon just in time for some fish and chips and a pint. So all that remains for me to say is thank you one and all for making the tour what it was! I know I will see so many of you during the summer and hope to see you on future tours, I will be in the office next week and will try and call everybody, all that remains for me now is……….. one more ‘’Jolly Up’’
All the best
28th March 2018
Originally I was going to write my blog on the last two tests in New Zealand before heading home but with all that’s happened to the great game of Cricket I just had to write…..the game we love has once again been tarnished and on this occasion by the convicts overseas!
This is not the first time in Cricket that ball tampering has come into play, on the two previous occasions Sachin Tendulker & Michael Atherton have both shamed the sport – all three were against South Africa. The ICC have so far fined Steve Smith his match fee and one match suspension and now Cricket Australia have sent him as well as Bancroft and Warner home for the premeditated offence.
In 2010 Pakistan had three players banned for up to 10 Years. There is a fine line between match fixing and cheating. To me, Cricket Australia will want to make an example of them I’m sure. Steve Smith is right up there as the best batsman in the world , from 30 to 100 runs is a brilliant 95% conversion. David Warner – the Aussie all English supporters love to hate – and Cameron Bancroft who made his debut at the Gabba against England in November has only played 8 test matches and is only 25. All three could have had several years left in the game and become legends in Australian cricket but now all three have been branded cheats. All their careers depend on the facts and any other allegations against the three. I expect a lengthy ban to all three but that decision will be made by Cricket Australia. With so much money in the game at international level as well as sponsorships you again have to ask Why? Playing for your country is the pinnacle for any sportsman as well as being role models for your country and players that kids will idolise. Sponsorships will now be cancelled, careers potentially finished and heads bowed in shame as the world of cricket looks on. I wonder if a panel of referees will watch all the Ashes closely to see if there was any wrongful doing? Cricket will now be on all the back pages for the wrong reasons…
All that happening in South Africa overshadowed England’s awful first innings performance in New Zealand. All out for 58 in 94 minutes which almost secured victory for New Zealand, apart from Overton they played on the back foot and just looked unprepared and lacking confidence. After New Zealand posted 427 it proved there was nothing in the pitch, needing to bat for 148 overs to save the test – poor shots by Cook and Bairstow replicating a previous shot that was dropped did not have that luck second time round then Stoneman fell for the trap that was there for all to see. We needed a heroic innings – 4 Years to the Day when Matt Prior saved England, Ben Stokes looked every bit that it was possible, playing a very patient game, playing his first test match of the winter. It would have eclipsed the brilliant 258 in Cape Town however he holed out for 66 and the match was lost.
I would like to finish this blog with a very funny comment in Auckland by one of the group. four of us went out for dinner and sadly she said “ I’ve had a great time I’m really going to miss all you three” what was funny with that you ask? Well one of them was her husband!😀
Bookings are going very well for Sri Lanka, a lot of repeat clients, although I call them friends I have had a wonderful time with them and look forward to seeing them very soon, at a reunion or in Sri Lanka.
We headed to Wellington with the series delicately poised at 1-1 the hosts won the toss and put England in on a surface that had patches of grass and with more gremlins in the pitch then the film. England posted 230/9 which looked to be 20 short of par.New Zealand went into bat chasing a relatively low target for victory, on a wicket which was now gremlin free and behaving normally. The Blackcaps lost Guptil early. Williamson and Munro added 68 until England’s spin twins blew away the middle order. Kane Williams ignited the Blackcaps with support from the well abled Santner and looked to be coasting until a straight drive from Williamson off the bowling of Woakes (who deflected it onto the stumps) sees Santner run out for the first time in the series. He does appear to be a dangerous player coming in at 8, he won the game with a 6 at Hamilton. Despite a superb century from Williamson England go 2-1 up after New Zealand failed to hit the required boundary off the last ball.
So off we go to Dunedin. England once again loose the toss and we are put in to bat. After an electric start from Roy and Bairstow adding 77 for the first wicket Bairstow was joined by Root and looked to be heading for a score close to 400 when Bairstow was caught out to Munroe for a brilliant 138. With the score on 267/2 and just under 14 overs left in the locker we once again witnessed a middle order collapse which saw England loose 7 wickets for 46 runs not the most intelligent of batting by the middle order. We always looked likely to win until Ross Taylor came to the crease, and started playing an array of shots all around the wicket finishing on one leg and career best 181 not out against his name and a DG Bradman-esque average of 76 for the series.
So….. Hagley Oval Christchurch is the venue for the ODI series decider, after England winning the toss and electing to bowl England never really looked like they were going to loose. Chris Woakes taking 3/32 and Rashid 3/42 did the damage, eventually the hosts loosing the first 7 wickets for 97 posted 223 well short of par on that wicket. Bairstow and Hales needing under 5 an over to win their 5th successive ODI series started very confidently and raced to 155 before Bairstow was out “hit wicket” on 104 off the bowling of Boult. England continued to score quickly, after Hales was out Root and Stokes steered England home with a little over 13 overs remaining. Bairstow was Man of the Match and not to be outdone Chris Woakes was Man of the Series, I have said before, in my opinion, that Woakes is the most improved England player and an outstanding all rounder. We now have two test matches in Auckland & Christchurch.
Our next ODI tour is in Sri Lanka in October with Matthew Hoggard joining us so if your interested in coming please give Sara or Richard a call they would love to hear from you. We are holding an inaugural 10 over client match in Colombo and inaugural golf day in Kandy too.
I would like to thank Phill, Kay, Colin, Helen, Andrew, Alyson, Dennis, Melvin, Ann Marie, Michael & Kim for a wonderful time we had during the ODI tour and look forward to meeting you on a forthcoming tour.
There has been a lot said by Trevor Bayliss on 20/20 Cricket about abolishing it. Every season the ICC must have the most unenviable task of organising competitions and since the inception of T20 their task has become a lot harder. With T20 competitions every few months lasting approximately 4-8 weeks you start to wonder. With the new competition starting in England appropriately in 2020, you do start to worry about test cricket and how to fit all other forms of Cricket into the calendar. I would just like to see the leagues in each country and a World Cup, every 4 years and scrap other menial competitions that have no relevance. Having just travelled from Australia to New Zealand and attended the final in Auckland overall, the matches were not greatly supported like they are in the Big Bash – I am sure this will run and run until hopefully the cricket purists win?
I have some breaking news for you……… Matthew Hoggard MBE will be part of the team joining myself and Richard for the ODI’s in Sri Lanka this October. Hoggy played in 67 tests and took 248 wickets, his last test was against New Zealand in 2008. As we have quite a few of you who tour with us from Yorkshire & Leicestershire I’m sure you will be delighted by the news and sure you will want to hear his stories…. he will be a great addition to the team adding fun and laughter throughout the ODI tour. I will tell you a short story……..
Sara sat next to him at a function a couple of years ago and at the end of the evening he signed a menu for me which read ‘’ To the greatest ever Chelsea supporter you silly Ba*&^$£” Best wishes Matthew Hoggard……..He owes me a beer I think!
Back to Hamilton for the ODI, great advertisement for the game it was a real seesaw, in the end we were 30 runs short and our death bowling was not as good as we have been but in Tauranga we won the toss and put NZ in. From the first ball to the last shot it was an outstanding performance from the England ODI Team.
With both bat & ball combined, excellent fielding and some great catches and a man of the match performance from Ben Stokes it was great to see him back and playing so well. Now the series is nicely poised at 1-1 as we head for Wellington at the weekend. Many of you are waiting for the W.I .dates all we know is that it will be end Jan/Feb 2019 so sign up using this link and be the first to know at the end of March when hopefully we go on sale.
12th February 2018
It seems a long time ago when I arrived in Brisbane with excitement to what should be a great series, but things do not always go to plan. There are numerous reasons why the Ashes was not what we were hoping for, in general the wickets were unusually slow by Australian standards. Then you start to analyse the teams …yes they had three quicks and a good spinner I would say not the best spinner in the world as some of the media suggest, apart from that there was not a lot of difference in the batting line ups, well on paper that is.
We did seem to bat with fear and by doing that you are likely to get out. We had to fight hard for every Australian wicket and played too many loose shots. I cannot remember an occasion where we went after one of their bowlers. I would really like to go behind the scenes and see what is talked about in meetings, what information is fed to the players on strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. As Geoffrey Boycott and Sir Ian Botham mentioned more than once during the Ashes – preparation is key – you won’t learn a lot playing President X1 sides you need to be playing state sides, and a couple of weeks longer out here playing more games was required.
We then moved on to the ODI’s starting In Melbourne where we finally played without fear – every individual had a role to play. Unlike the test team the One Day team carried it out to perfection. As I have said before we are getting better, in fact I think we are the best ODI team in world cricket. Recently Eoin Morgan has not come to the party with the bat but hopefully that will come, his captaincy is the best there is in the one day game, constantly coming up with different field placings etc. On the batting the top 5 or 6 players are very explosive and we can bat down to 10. We regularly went after their quicks – Mitchell Starc’s bowling average after his 10 overs was just under 7…… fearless cricket.
We have just played two T20’s and have been hammered on both occasions, not scoring anywhere near the amount of runs to put the Aussies under pressure who’s side is loaded with players from the Big Bash. The first was woeful having posted 155, we did look like we would be close to 200 but fell away. In the second the game it was more or less done in the first four overs when we were 3 down, that result puts the Aussies in the Tri-Series final and England’s participation hangs in the balance. They know they have not played well but it’s not over yet! So now we head to New Zealand where England must play close to their potential if we are going to have any chance of meeting the Aussies at Eden Park in the final, after that I look forward to meeting all you guys who are coming for the ODI’s and two test matches.
I would just like to say from a personal view I have met a lot of lovely people from both tours in Oz. I have made a lot of new friends, and would like to thank each and every one of you for your participation during the tours which made it highly enjoyable and memorable experience for me and I hope you too. I would be delighted if you kept in touch.
All the Best
Our Sri Lanka program is ready to go but we are still waiting for ECB to confirm. We have a selection of probably 8 set tours or you can ask for a tailor made trip if what we have designed doesn’t suit your requirements.
31st January 2018
With the # Beat England! Slogan stuffed firmly up their rear we destroyed the convicts with an exhilarating display of One Day Cricket……..
After Tom Curran removed Tim Payne to give England an emphatic victory, I had a flashback to when I arrived in Brisbane for the Ashes last November, (I must admit a few beers and one or two Jolly Ups since) I was having a coffee with Gordon and his grandpa Ian when I looked down the street and attached to various lamp posts was a # Beat England! banner, but when you take on England in one day cricket you are taking on the best in the world. At the trophy presentation gone was the hand with the Australian flag embroiled on it with 4 fingers up. The fire crackers in Sydney were also gone as was the fear factor England had with the bat during the Ashes.
In my opinion this team is the best in the one day format. You have a blend of experience and youth and exciting explosive players to watch. With Roy, Hales, Buttler, Morgan you can shortly add Stokes to that and with Woakes, who I think is becoming a world class cricketer in all forms of the game we bat right down to 11. You only need one of the big guns to come off and the rest making 20s and 30s and you put the opposition under pressure. That’s what happened with Roy in Melbourne making 180, in Sydney Buttler 100 together with Woakes 53 getting England out of a tight spot hitting 38 of the final 12 balls!
In Adelaide having lost the toss the hosts put us in and quickly found ourselves 5 for 8 but Woakes and Curran did exceptionally well to almost rescue the situation we were in, but in the end we were 70 runs short, it would have been nice going 4-0 up instead of 3-1, so the final ODI in the new Optus Stadium in Perth we were treated to an Ashes like team for the second successive game losing wickets continuously after Roy came blazing out of the blocks with 49 together with Bairstow 44. Only Root 62 helped us get over 250 again over 70 runs short in my mind there did not appear to be too many demons on a wicket which was laid only in November. The game looking to be heading the Aussies way with Stoinis 87 and Maxwell 34 nurdling the ball around for easy singles seemed to be in complete control until Rashid had Stoinis caught by a diving Curran. That was the point when the wheels started to fall off and again Curran was in the action trapping Maxwell LBW – no one else offered any resistance, so there are two 100% records going forward at the new Perth stadium England winning and a streaker!!
To finish… on the flight to Perth I was sitting next to the Australian team Doctor, I decided to listen to some music but then from nowhere Michael Clarke the ex Aussie captain leaned over my shoulder to get the doc’s attention, it appeared that someone had collapsed and needed help. The guy appeared to be Ok after he treated him. In front of me was an analyst who had graphs of a player with strengths and weaknesses on his laptop, obviously got it all wrong. I should have told him try setting a field to Buttler who plays 360 degrees around the wicket, I’m not sure even his team mates know what to expect! My last question to the doc was any injuries for Perth? He replied “I can tell you but then I will have to kill you”…. who needs a Dr?
The crew that came out in January for the 1 day tour were a great bunch and had the most amazing time benefitting from all the previous experiences the Ashes crowd had enjoyed. there was never a dull moment amongst a very hectic tour.
All the best and see you in New Zealand, Sri Lanka or West Indies if not before.
After the very disappointing Ashes we deservedly go 2-0 up in the ODI’s
I am writing this blog at Brisbane airport surrounded by England Squad en route to Sydney. We began the ODI’s in Melbourne in fine fettle after the Aussies posted a below par score of 304/8 England set about targeting it with in form Jason Roy eclipsing many records on his way to 180 and Root looking in fine touch with an unbeaten 91 saw England home by 5 wickets.
We left Melbourne for Brisbane and I was seated next to Cameron White, so of course we chatted about all things Cricket he was expecting the same team in Brisbane with the exception of rotating a fast bowler, we also chatted about the new stadium in Perth there were rumours when we were there that the pitch was not playing too well in the 3 T20 games and Cameron confirmed this, so I look forward to that one hopefully in a unassailable lead.
At Brisbane there were 4 changes in the Australia team with no spinner, all our spinners took wickets although Rashid had a very disappointing start but performed better in his 2nd spell. After we had removed Warner,Finch & Smith, they looked like they would be very short of par after a cameo from Marsh & Carey we reduced them to 270 on a wicket which seemed to help the spinners -not too dissimilar to my last trip to Chandigarh where Ashwin & Jadiera had us in a spin, you have to question why the Aussies seemed very balanced at test level but all awry in white ball game. They clearly wanted an extra batsman but why only go in with 2 quick bowlers and not a recognised spinner? I was sure Smith would bowl but decided against it as England reached the target comfortably.
So we roll on to Sydney once again, we have a lovely group with us again, we have another trip planned to Watson’s Bay and the famous Doyle’s Restaurant this afternoon, if you haven’t been there it’s a lovely trip by ferry with views of the Opera House and the bridge on the way….
Dates for Sri Lanka are now out so if interested Sara and Richard would be delighted to look after your needs.
10th January 2018
The test match at the MCG is always eagerly awaited as it starts Boxing Day once again we found ourselves in a strong position due to 3 quick wickets with the Aussies playing on and in reply an excellent knock of 244 by the Chef (Alistair Cook) which was the highlight of the Ashes from an English point of view. The ICC have said the pitch was not up to international standard and with bad weather interrupting the last days cricket the match fizzled out into a disappointing draw.
At Sydney the pitch did not break up as predicted, all the pitches in the series with exception of Perth were flat not offering much to the bowlers but sheer pace was the key. If they had our bowlers we would have piled on the runs.
In all it was not a classic series every match went into a 5th Day, if it had of been a 4 Day test like it has been talked about we would have retained the series and drew 0-0 but then again, the Aussies would not have prepared the wickets the way they did, would they??
Christmas Day at Ludlow’s on the Southbank in sparkling sunshine & New Years Eve celebrations on an authentic paddle steamer under the Harbour bridge were a great success. Everyone had a fab time, and once again more friendships were made, especially the four who named themselves ‘’The Jolly Uppers ”
The end of Tour Dinner went without a hitch at the All Hands bar on Darling Harbour where Sara introduced our surprise guest Sir Ian Botham who mingled with everyone for photos and autographs followed by a Q&A and an auction of water colours completed on location by Judith Pedersen which raised $2700 for Lady Taverners charity.
Huge thanks to Andrew Maidstone for interviewing Ian and conducting the auction and to Judith for her paintings. After the end of tour dinner, Keith, Barry, David & Margaret, David & Sue, Lindsay & Matt, Mark, Simon, Matt, Bryn and I had a great time at the Casino with Chris Gayle who we met outside the Hyatt. I finished the night having another beer with him talking about his career……..So, that was the Ashes, a big thank you to all who came with us. I won’t forget you and will take many memories away with me, you have all contributed in making it an exceptional tour despite the cricket…. now we roll on to Melbourne for the 1st of 5 One Day games.
20th December 2017
With English cricket you can analyse it too much, even though I have in previous blogs, sometimes you just have to admit we have been out played by a better team. I still think shot selection is a concern and although there probably is not a lot in the batting when you look at their bowling attack and with 2 or 3 other pacemen. They could have called on Coulter-Nile and Patterson if it had not been down to injury. You start to think how have they such riches in fast bowling yet we just have med/fast bowlers?
Do we do enough at grass roots? Just look at the lunch sessions here in Aus – there are 100’s of kids on the pitch playing cricket and going through different methods, they look like they had a great time. I would like to know how many have come out of those sessions that have played at schools and state games and eventually for Australia?
So, they have had the conditions to suit their bowlers, fast hard bouncy wickets, and in 2019 conditions will suit us, we will have to wait two years to shut the Aussies up with their #beat England! and start our own #beat the convicts!
Let’s not get too downhearted, I have received many messages and emails from clients who have returned home thanking us for making great trips -for me to read these heartfelt messages tells me we are getting things right. A lot goes on behind the scenes – we have over 170 who each have their tailor made and bespoke trips. I have heard from so many telling me that Richard and Sara have done a fantastic job, we don’t get everything right but we learn for the next time, we have made a lot of new friends and was great to see our old clients who have become friends. If I was to mention you all I would be writing this for several hours. I have probably been on several Jolly Ups with as many of you as I could and have loved being with you guys, very knowledgeable on cricket and also know how to have a great time.
I know over the next few weeks I will be watching with interest as events unfold at Meadow Lane. I would like to mention two guys who are going the distance with me who have become great friends Andrew and my “apprentice” Keith who is in training!
All the best Gary
7th December 2017
After a poor test with a few positives in Brisbane, England again find themselves in a similar position.
There is evidence of poor shot selection once again. After playing so well in Brisbane James Vince scoring 83 and unlucky to be out is back to playing at shots wide of off stump and being caught behind for a total of 17 in two innings, 6 players scored over 30 yet only Root scored a half century. England need someone to come to the party and score a big century then that just might give the team confidence going forward. The Aussies have had two big centurions both were Man of the Match and that gave them the foundation for winning. We did however show some character with the ball in their 2nd innings which gave England an outside chance, but all the hard work was undone in two overs loosing Woakes and then Cook.
Is the preparation correct? Why are they playing football just before they start? Would they had been better off starting the warm up with football? Then the players we had left in the shed to practice in the nets, would that have made any difference? The Aussies are certainly more disciplined then us with batting and bowling, if we engineered that into the team and had the will to win maybe it might be so different, we need to see more character from the team if we are to avoid going 3-0 giving the Aussies the Ashes.
On a brighter note Craig Overton played extremely well on debut, he bowled well getting Smith and taking 4 wickets in the match and was top scorer with the bat in the first in innings. You have to question why Jake Ball was selected in front of him in Brisbane as he had 13 wickets in the warm ups compared to Ball’s 1? Perth is hot and sunny with very different pitch conditions from the last 2 so I am expecting to see changes in the team to benefit from the wicket known for its pace. Legendary cricketer Shane Warne is confident off-spinner Nathan Lyon will be a key asset to Australia’s bowling attack at the WACA . Who will be our key asset for the pivotal match against our old adversary Australia? Email me with your thoughts on firstname.lastname@example.org
There is still availability in the Melbourne and Sydney test, if you fancy a trip down under give Richard or Sara a call, we have Christmas lunch in Melbourne, New Years Eve cruise in Sydney and Fish and Chips at Doyles famous beach restaurant in Watsons Bay, Sydney to look forward to.
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Last updated February 23rd, 2018