Picture credits - Action shots from the ground: Stanford2020.com/Brookes LaTouche Photography, all others courtesy of Sarah Williams, Gerard Farrell, and Roger Wootton (Middlesex CCC).
Arrival - Sunday 19th October 2008
"After a good but lengthy 11 hour flight we land safely in Antigua to be greeted by the blistering heat of the afternoon sun, but not to be greeted by swarms of adoring fans! Oh my god, it's absolutely boiling, which immediately prompts Nashy and Toby to pile on the sun cream with some haste! A short transfer to the hotel followed by check in, and joy of all joys; we're given the golden ticket - the all inclusive wristbands! The rooms are pleasant with comfy beds but shockingly distasteful Hilda Ogden style wallpaper! A beer or two to help us acclimatise is next on the agenda and behold the shock of the night - Dawid Malan drinks! Furthermore he even went to the bar for the first time ever to get ‘em in - it's amazing what behavioural change the ‘all inclusive' wristband can bring on in some people! After just a couple of swift ones, exhaustion won the day and we all headed off for an early night in bed with Hilda"
Day One - Monday 20th October 2008
"Up early.....very, very early! 5am - damn you jetlag! For any of us thinking this was going to be a nice relaxing tour, our thoughts were about to be proven woefully off the mark! Toby and Luke appear to have taken on the mantle of very seriously scary army drill sergeants as they set us off on a very heavy going fitness and work out session on the beach! A game of beach volleyball follows, which sees Kartik play an absolute blinder of a game, diving around like a leaping salmon, only for us to later discover that he used to represent his Indian state side at the same game! After far too much hard work we're rewarded with a leisurely afternoon in the sweltering heat. The evening sees us all get together for a team meeting to discuss the itinerary for the tour ahead and to discuss our match preparation plans. An early night for all - I think the drill sergeants' early morning workout well and truly took its toll."
Day Two - Tuesday 21st October 2008
"Still riddled with jetlag all the boys are up early again for breakfast! It's then onto our very snazzy looking Middlesex branded team bus, heading for the Stanford ground for our first net session. We're joined by our resident security guard, Daley, whose last role was to look after Prince William! We reckon we're in pretty safe hands then! We even get a police escort to the ground, which you'd think would be good news, not to be however, as he drove at about 90mph with the bus desperately trying to keep up! We get there in one piece luckily and wow, what a ground! Beautiful nets with a good slow and low wicket, which sees Shaggy and Kartik smiling for the next couple of hours!
We get to see the wicket we'll be playing on in just a few days - hmmmm, the term ‘rolled mud' springs to mind! The Nets are followed by fielding drills and a game of footy in the afternoon, to try and get us used to moving around in the 90 degree heat. Late afternoon and Messrs Nash, Strauss, Murts and Scotty (Richard) head to the golf course - Strauss and Scott take the cash on a slightly ragged and overgrown course, which appears to still be suffering the effects of hurricane Omar. Straussy even manages to lose a ball on the fairway it was that bad! Back to the hotel, for an evening chilling out in the hotel restaurant with the rest of the boys."
Day Three - Wednesday 22nd October 2008
"Our first warm up game was scheduled for today against an Antiguan Select XI. Not to be sadly, as Hurricane Omar had gifted us with a heavily waterlogged pitch as a leave behind present! Bless him eh! Oh what to do? Sunbathing? Hit the bar? Some more golf? No...the drill sergeants have other ideas again and take control - more team fitness sessions followed by more nets! Richard Scott's lightning reflexes are put to the ultimate test as Straussy throws in a hard and flat one - in his direction.........a test which he sadly fails abysmally!
He never even saw it in fact! Thud - followed by the first MCCC casualty heading off to the best medical unit that Antigua can muster. Shortly thereafter he's followed by Tyron, with infected ears! Not quite as dramatic as Scotty's 12 stitches in his forehead, but no less painful by all accounts!
Back to the hotel by late afternoon for a hilarious evening of our inaugural fines session - Victims of fines Chairmen Nashy and Richo include: Steven 'Alice band' Finn, Andrew 'expensive gadget buying' Strauss, Murali 'same brand shirt everyday wearing' Kartik and Toby 'more creams than Boots' Radford."
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