The for­mer Eng­land man pens his lat­est exclusive col­umn

The Cricket Paper - - ENGLAND TOUR OF BANGLADESH - Paul Nixon

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.

PIC­TURE: Getty Images

Sur­rounded: Eng­land cap­tain Alas­tair Cook can’t get away from the fans when last in In­dia

PAUL NIXON

www.paulnixon­cricket.com

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