The former England man pens his latest exclusive column
The Test series has just started in Bangladesh and it is going to be a long time away from home for some of the England players, with a five-Test series in India quickly following on the back of this series.
Asia is a wonderful place to tour, and I’m sure it will be for the lads out there at the moment, even with the security concerns.
I toured with England over to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000-2001, and being in the Sub-continent is such a wonderful experience.
It’s an area of the world where the people love their cricket.
The guys that are over there now with England will have a great time.Yes, it’s going to be a lot quieter in Bangladesh because of the terrorist threat but generally Asian people are full of smiles, and there will be plenty to do when the squad go to India.
It’s key that the players get out exploring in the tuk-tuks and rickshaws.We used to have races in the cycle carriages, just to have a bit of fun and create that bit of competition between the group, too. Of course you get on the golf course when you can, but it’s going to be a very busy winter with seven Tests between now and Christmas.
You want your mind to be relaxed enough but you do have to focus on the cricket, too.
It will be tough to relax when out and about because the Asian people have such a strong cricket knowledge that every player will be bombarded by the public for photos as soon as they go out.
But it’s important not to just be locked up in your hotel room every day. It can take your mind off the cricket if you go out for a couple of hours and just see different faces.
You need to create your own fun.We had a book club, where you had to tell the lads about your book in so many seconds and try to sell your book. Freddie Flintoff used to love that and Chris Read was like our librarian – he could read a book in a day.
We had a property night, too, where lads would talk about investments they made and developments they had looked at.
That was great fun and always educa-
It’s important not to be locked up in your room every day. Take your mind off cricket by going out for a couple of hours
tional. But it was also great for team bonding.You’d get to know each other really well.
Families might go out for a week or two, but it’s unlikely any families will be there for the whole duration. Players will miss home but it’s important that you don’t allow it to get into your head too much.
When I toured I got my head around it and committed to the tour, but you have to respect that everybody is different. Some will want to talk to their wives and kids every day while others will feel content just communicating with home once or twice a week.
There are a lot of ways to keep in contact with family and friends nowadays. When you went away with England you used to get gifts from the ECB or MCC, I’m not sure if it still happens now, but for that tour we were each given laptops to keep in touch with family.
That helped massively for emails, but it’s different now because you can make video calls and actually see your family.
That must help, and if it means the players feel more relaxed then that will be shown on the pitch too.
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