england cricket tour rep gary

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 our permanent rep for our  England Cricket tours to South Africa  this winter and for Sri lanka next winter 2020 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. The time has come to introduce guest bloggers chosen rom our incredible cricket loving customers who also like to air opinion !

Want the no-holds-barred, inside track on all the ups and downs of international and England Cricket? Viewer, read on…

 

England winning the ICC Cricket World Cup is a platform to build on

Starting with the Ashes!

This most go down as the most amazing game of cricket anyone has ever witnessed. The game went one way and other in the most nail biting climax the game has ever seen. I cannot remember a game in any sport going to the wire in any major world final? It had everything, in hindsight it should have come with health warnings and seat belts for the roller coaster ride we were about to witness!

My story started in January, I fill out the calendar with all the tour dates, all England home matches including Ashes, Surrey CCC, Chelsea fixtures and our commitments. What I failed to do was mark the semi final and final in the calendar so we arranged a holiday during this time. Then realised what I’d done- huge school boy error! So our holiday in the theme parks was matched by the roller coaster match which was unraveling at Lords!
We kept Sunday clear as to watch it! Many phone calls were made, conversations with concierge, who put us in touch with the Florida Cricket Association, with the help of Rahul we managed to stream it on the laptop! It was very disappointing to fine no one was screening it, especially as we accommodate the Americans in the UK by showing silly boys rounders as Del Boy would call it and the NFL!
Being on the laptop you could guarantee it would freeze at critical moments of the game! But that’s all we had! If I had been at home I would definitely would had exhausted all contacts in search of a ticket!

So we are now newly crowned world champions. This will give the team so much confidence going in to the next Ashes series. I have been crying out for Jason Roy to be given a chance. Carrying on from where he left of in Australia he once again dismantled the entire Australian attack, only being given out by a poor umpiring decision! So hopefully now he will get his chance!

In the aftermath of Yesterday’s result we have been very busy with calls and emails on the forthcoming tours, Sara was busy taking calls during the game yesterday with the phone on divert and even had a booking!

The T20 World Cup is extremely mouthwatering as in Australia, I can assure you I won’t be meeting Mickey Mouse this time! I will be in Australia, and hopefully watching England win back to back World Cups!

 

All the best Gary

ICC CWC Looking back to the opening match at The Oval

England v South Africa ODI 30 May 2019 by Mike Prentis
I managed to get in 1.5 hours work before catching the Northern Line from Moorgate to Oval. The streets were busy with late comers as I waited at 9.55am for my friend Matt. We were joined by Tony and Andrew. We had to queue for a while to get in through the Alec Stewart gate, before making our ways to our seats at the Western end of the OCS stand.
What an atmosphere, a full house at 10.30am. Coming back to the Oval always reminds me of my first visit, in 1966. With a friend and his father, a Surrey member, we sat in the seats at the front of the pavilion as Wes Hall walked back almost to the pavilion steps to start his run up. The opposition were the West Indies in 1966; I was 9. My other memory was being introduced to a rather suave man called Denis. I am virtually certain that man was Denis Compton.
Still, today we have lost the toss and are fielding. On a good Oval wicket it feels we need to set a total of near to 350, with 300 the minimum defendable score. Bairstow out first ball was a blow. But Roy and Root dug in well, and we saw a few excellent classic effortless straight drives for 4, all along the ground. It felt like a good wicket. Time for first beers it seemed. The beer I was handed came from just behind us; revolting weak tasteless, fizzy lager; I think it was called Blonde. After the second beer, I set off round the ground to find some real ale, as I knew you can always find it at The Oval. I walked clockwise round the ground, looking where normally real ale is for sale. Nothing, just Biri! Sadly I had to return to the others, not only having missed the wickets of Roy and Root, but with just 4 more pints of ‘Blonde’! Talking later to an official, I was told that this is an ICC event. They chose the beer provider. In my opinion they chose poorly!
Anyway Stokes batted well, and so did Morgan. Entertaining stuff. Morgan’s dismissal was a blow, as was Buttler’s not so long after. 350 was looking a stretch. The most interesting later moments of the innings included Archer’s classic drive for 4 through the covers. He was looking promising even before he bowled. The end total was respectable but we would have to defend well.
On my walk round the ground I noted that on the far of the ground curry was on offer, I imagine from the local Kennington Tandoori. I tried this curry during the shortened England v Pakistan ODI , it was excellent.
We gathered, during the break between innings, that there were a number of billionaires in the ground, including the Hindujas, and another pointed out to us who was definitely incognito in his maroon baseball cap. I did spot Stephen Fry looking very happy in the pavilion.
Archer bowled well at the start of, and throughout, the South Africa innings. His fluid, languid action off a short run still enables him to generate great speed. Buttler was standing more than a pitch length behind the stumps! He bowled threateningly and deserved his wickets; he was hard to score off. De Cock played well, and his wicket was key. After that South Africa lost momentum and didn’t look likely to threaten England’s total.
The catching on the day was breath taking. The South Africans took a few great catches in the deep. But the best catch was Stokes’s to dismiss Phehlukwayo, a leap into the air running backwards and taken in one hand. As the shot was played the ground went quite, the ball was on its way towards Stokes. I lost sight of it off the bat. Then the crowd behind Stokes erupted. The replay showed Stokes had caught the seemingly impossible.
The chants of ‘It’s coming’ home started in front of us, and some competitive chanting for Moeen and Amla, with a South African group to our right in good voice, and all in South African kit.
It was now just a matter of time. England won a convincing victory, which had seemed unlikely two hours earlier. Happy, we wandered off the Fentiman Arms for a good pint of real ale.
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ICC Cricket World Cup at the Oval

I feel so sorry for Mark Wood for being left out of the first ODI of the ICC Cricket World Cup

For those of us who were lucky enough to watch his marvellous demolition of the West Indies batsmen in St. Lucia in February and independently saving face for the whole England Cricket team, having been utterly anniliated in the two previous games. His bowling figures of 5 for 41 changed the whole game but did not tell the whole story. He was absolutely unplayable and had the previously dominant West Indians, ducking and diving his vicious attack with the ball on a wicket that was not necessarily conducive to seam bowling.

 

My other concern is Moeen Ali who seems totally out of sorts in the One day games. In his last 5 games he hasn’t taken only 1 wicket and  sadly for him, his batting has been equally poor having only made one score above 40 in his last 5 innings. More worryingly is his body language, he seems uncertain as to which shot to play and hence giving his wicket away too easily. Could it be said we saw the same disappointing level of performance yesterday?

I strongly believe that this World Cup will not be won by the team with the best batting line up but by the team with the strongest bowling unit – with the addition of Jofra Archer we are very strong. The icing on top of this satisfying cake yesterday was the catch by Ben Stokes who won man of the match.

Having been around the game and coached for many years, I know difficult decisions have to be made in selecting the final 11 to take the field. I would like to suggest that we include Mark Wood and consider resting Moeen Ali. What one spinner I hear you cry! No, we also have Joe Root who is a fine bowler of spin and can certainly contribute to the bowling attack. I doubt this will happen but I hope it may give food for thought.

 

Debbie Chambers guest blogger with Richie Richardson in Antigua

 

An amazing summer of cricket & a winter in SA + Australia

 

It’s been a hectic year for us and there seems no let up. The last couple of months we have been preparing behind the scenes on four fronts -NZ, SA, SL + Aus and all that after two very busy and successful tours to Sri Lanka & the Caribbean!   South Africa winter tour is finally on sale and bookings over the bank holiday are rivalling last years WI tour.

After the tragedy in Sri Lanka it puts everything into prospective, we have been in constant contact with them.Sri Lanks Tour 2018 Everyone survived that awful day of events and they are gradually getting back to normality and are focussing on positive things like planning  the next cricket tour in March 2020!

The eagerly awaited World Cup starts this week, but me being me will be in Azerbaijan! Believe me you’ve read about the distance and complexity of this trip, but imagine how we are in the office being a tour company that puts together bespoke trips adding any variation desired by our wonderful clients.

 

As the World Cup begins we have just been informed that we have been officially appointed agents for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in 2020. One of only 20 worldwide. The T20 World Cup is over 6 Weeks and England are playing in all the best locations starting in the new Perth stadium. You’ll have opportunity to go on a tour around the wonderful WACA. I love Perth and happen to know a great pub called the Lucky Shag and I just happen to know a great Indian eatery there too! The 2nd match is probably my favourite ground in the world overseas – the SCG against South Africa. Then we play India at the MCG Melbourne. By now your appetite must be wetted! We then travel to Brisbane and the Gabba against Afghanistan followed by the Adelaide Oval. Hopefully we will play a semi final in Adelaide or Sydney with the final at the MCG Melbourne. What an amazing trip!, I’m really looking forward to going back to Oz.The only issue is there are too many Australians, joking aside, it’s a fabulous country and what better way to see Australia? We will of course be adding extras to the trip to suit every budget! You’ll be notified when the tour is available  which should be later this week – we have it all planned and the tickets in place..

So get behind the boys this summer, it promises to be an amazing summer of cricket, the World Cup will be special, we have the most amazing side. I think we are strong favourites for the title. I’ve seen us wipe the board with the best sides! 15/8 fav is about right, we are that good.For the Ashes have your sandpaper at the ready. You’ve all been given stick in life, can you imagine how much smith and Warner will go through!!
All the best Gary

Is there a need for the Hundred?

Is there a need for “The Hundred” or is it just for TV and to line the ECB coffers?

With the announcement last week that “The Hundred” commencing in 2020 over a 5 week period will have a draft in October. The league will consist of eight city-based franchise teams, each of which will field both a men’s and women’s team. It is intended to run alongside the county-based t20 Blast for men and supersede the Women’s Super League. It takes only two & half hours with a maximum of 100 balls per side. Each team will have a £1.2million budget to recruit a squad of overseas and domestic players.

Is it really necessary to have another shortened game in the calendar?
Like many, I prefer 50 overs to 20/20.

What next? We currently have the best One Day side we ever had! What happens if we win the ICC Cricket World Cup?

As of next year the Royal London One Day Cup will be for the second eleven county teams, how would the current squad get enough practice for the forthcoming ICC Trophy & the next World Cup?

The ECB should look at the current format. As a member of Surrey we have had two away games in succession. Then we don’t play away for a month? It’s all done in blocks which seems crazy with September being allocated as Championship. Last summer we got away with it as we had a fantastic summer but surely we need to hold the shorter format then!

I hope it doesn’t happen but the Championship could be decided by Michael Fish’s weather report. I’m not saying expect a hurricane in September but who knows what could happen?

A lot of you remember the Gillette Cup & Benson & Hedges Cup. Surrey were lucky to be appearing in a lot of finals over those years, trying to get a ticket was extremely difficult unless a member!

The ECB should try and introduce a 50 over knock out comp and re introduce minor counties or better still a Sunday 50 over League and look at seasons in the cricket calendar in general!

I would love to hear your view?

All the best
Gary and friends…..

Summer of cricket is back with rain, sleet and Hales!

The cricket season is well underway with the usual elements having its say with mixed results and few postponed and abandoned!

Once again we are reading about issues in the camp, once again Alex Hales is in the news. I have heard from a good source that he was not to blame for the Stokes incident, having said that, he was there. This time we have no idea what’s happened except for the “alleged spliff” if that’s the worst thing he’s done, pretty sure other members of the team would have done something equal to that which the ECB have brushed under the carpet. I know certain players of the great West Indies side who used to visit Chiswick and regularly had cases of Rum delivered for parties! Didn’t effect them and I’m pretty sure the management knew of this!

The “senior” players had a meeting and decided they wanted him omitted from England’s World Cup squad. Well of course they would, they are all batsman he’s a threat to someone in the team. Personally I am a great fan of Hales. He is an extremely talented and aggressive batsman who can single handed take the game from the opposition. I was at Lords 2 Years ago when, against Surrey he scored 181 – a record for the London Cup. He is an edge of your seat batsman, he is dynamic and great to watch. There are one or two in the England team who I think are there on name not merit! Personally I think he will be he will be a huge loss to England if replaced by Foakes who I think is probably the best keeper in England, but batting in a 50 over comp? I’m not sure he will score quickly enough; he scored a century on debut in the test in Galle to what must be said is not the best attack in the world! But he turned the game on its head and of course it was a test match. I do think Ben will be an outstanding player, maybe this is too soon for him.

Saturday was the Second ODI which England just edged, Although it was a batting paradise I feel the bowling attack is not strong enough. I originally thought it would be so unfair to include Archer in the squad but now having seen the movement he gets out of the new ball he had to be in the squad! I feel very sorry for those omitted, especially as they have been there from the beginning of the road!

Today I am going to Taunton to support my understrength Surrey and meet up with several good friends I have met on tour who are big time Somerset supporters and have travelled with us several times Roger, Peter and David – left.

I am sorry there is still no news regarding South Africa, but I promise you’ll be the first to know!

All the best
Gary

The ODI series again did not disappoint, neither did it go the way we expected it to. My friend Chris Gayle the Universe Boss showed us what he is still capable of, and what entertainment we had. Scores of 135, 50, 162 & 77… he was majestic. It was a thrilling series, if the World Cup is anything like the cricket that was served up then we are in for a treat. The series finished 2-2 with one sadly abandoned in Granada.

After Chris Gayle’s 162 I called him and asked if he was going to join me for a beer, he did and to be fair to him he had several photos with some of our party. I don’t always talk about cricket with him but did ask him one cricket question which was… You smashed 162 today…. with our bowling attack do you really think England can win the World Cup? He said if you score 400 you can! Probably not a great question, but it makes your mouth water to what could be!

We had several events during the ODI’s – the first being held at Mount Gay Rum distillery, with a tasting session and a cocktail making competition. This was an extremely popular event with all. It was an opportunity for everyone to meet, after several rum cocktails, and a few neat rums everyone had a fabulous time and made new friends. We invited Gordon Greenidge to be the judge and selected the GMT (Greenidge Mean Time) to be the winner made by a team who will be nameless!

The second of our events was at the West Indies Brewery in Grenada, (there is a bit of a theme here) it was planned, but it isn’t usual for us to have two alcohol events let alone one! It was great just having a ale again, being on tour it’s the one thing I miss. I don’t miss the weather but I do miss a good beer! I was very surprised how many real ale drinkers we have on tour, they are certainly on the up, definitely more than lager drinkers! We had an ex West Indies cricketer Junior Murray as our guest for the afternoon who we try to help by supporting his kids Cricket Academy! The donations made meant a lot to him and will go along way keeping them off the street. Bumble also joined us along with The Saga Louts Peter, Roger and David (below) who have become good friends with everyone they meet on tour. I will say it wasn’t my nickname for them but the photo below gives a clue!

After Granada several of us had an experience of spending over seven hours at St Vincent airport for a delayed flight to St Lucia. We had great fun and all bonded very well, with one client in particular walking up and down the escalators keeping fit! Others slept on the seats including yours truly! By the time we reached St Lucia everyone had made new friends. This is what is great about our tours, we always seem to have enduring relationships made. I love this. I, for one, make so many friends who I keep in touch with through the year and also meet up for a beer at a Cricket ground around the UK. This year with the Cricket World Cup it will be more than ever as I have tickets for many matches so our summer Whats App cricket group will come back into action.

Our last event was in St Lucia – a half day sail from Castries to Soufriere on a catamaran. I loved this trip, rum punches & Piton Beers were flowing, the music & food were great, the scenery was captivating and to top it all the company was as usual cracking. On the way back our captain sought out the dolphins and to our delight we must have seen several hundred racing the boat, jumping and spinning all around our catamaran!

Finally the curtain came down on yet another brilliant tour!

We are very much gearing up for the forthcoming tours to New Zealand & South Africa, I would love to see some new faces join us on a tour that will not disappoint! I look forward to seeing some of you during the summer and on the next tours!
If you are new and a bit hesitant about a cricket tour, please give Richard or Sara a call, they would be very accommodating, and look after your every need!

So all that remains from me is to say I have once again had a great time with old friends and met a lot of new ones too, so I hope you all have a great summer of cricket, please keep in touch, and hopefully will see a lot of you during the summer!

Good Test Cricket at great locations in the Caribbean!

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!

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.

Neil Smith

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!

2017-18 Review of all things Cricket

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.
I would like to take this opportunity in thanking all of you for travelling with us and wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year. I look forward to seeing many of you at our reunion of previous tours at the George IV, Chiswick on the 19th if not the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 

 

Christmas comes early as England record first whitewash in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka v England Banner

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!

Galle

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!

Andy Richard Gatt
Andrew and Gatt

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.

Butterflys staff

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

Gary

England continue to build towards the World Cup, but still have work to do!

ICT in Sri Lanka

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!

ICT in Sri Lanka (4)

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,

Gary

England go 1-0 up in Sri Lanka & our inaugural tour cricket match….

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😊

From one Chef to another – Sir Alistair Cook we salute you!

 

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
Gary

Kenny Benjamin on the steps of Liberta CC Antigua
Wicket keeping for Sir Richie in Antigua
Sir Ian at our Sydney function

Dates for the West Indies tour 2019….are long awaited

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!

Kenny Benjamin
Sir Richie and new wicket keeper Lord Gary

West Indies v ICC Rest of World X1 hurricane relief match

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
Gary

I’ve been back from Australia & New Zealand a week ….

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
Gary

Gary

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.
Around 1am I was sorting out my suitcases in the Stamford Plaza, I turned the TV on and managed to watch the last hour of England v Australia at Twickenham. Soon daylight was shining through the curtains, I knew I would not sleep so I freshened up and started to work on the Brisbane test and the arriving clients. From that moment I was focused on the tour and extremely excited about what lay ahead of me. The Ashes and ODI’s in Aus, Tri Series, ODI and Tests in New Zealand and some 30 odd flights. One day later I was in the bar and had half an hour with Geoffrey Boycott, from that moment I knew it was going to be an amazing tour in so many ways. I met so many lovely people and made so many new friends and have lots of great memories to take home. I have received many messages asking when I’m home and suggesting we must catch up! Which I would of course love to do. I am friends with many of you on Facebook – if we are not friends on there already you will find me easily looking like a butler! It has been a wonderful experience for me and that goes for everyone! So many great trips and excursions to be had, from Ayres Rock to Alice Springs, Hobart to the Whit Sundays, Blue Mountains to the Great Ocean Road to name a few. Richard and Sara raised the bar, I lost count how many times I was told what a wonderful trip they had. I’m not even home and we have already had 40 odd bookings for Sri Lanka. I don’t like singling anyone out as I made so many friends – if I mentioned all the friends I had made there would be over 180 but I will mention my “apprentice” Keith who is going on the entire Sri Lanka tour and is in training already.

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
Gary

International Cricket Tours Customers

Gary – tour manager and clients

Rabbits & Headlights and the Yellow tape gate!

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.
Sara and Richard will be delighted to hear from you.

England bring their “A” game to the table for the decider at Christchurch…

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.
All the best
Gary

 

 

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Last updated May 31st, 2019

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