Not many people would complain about an unscheduled visit to the spectacularly beautiful Maldive Islands but on Monday morning Shaun Pollock’s national cricket team had every reason to feel grumpy about the prospect.
Having flown the well-established route to Dubai on Sunday night (they flew there just a month earlier en route to Morocco) Pollock’s team were surrounded by what seemed like thousands of people making their way to Sri Lanka for the ICC Champions Trophy.
Match Referees Mike Procter and Gundappa Viswanath, umpires Rudi Koertzen and Russell Tiffin, the Pakistan cricket team and hundreds of television production team members swarmed around Dubai airport so it seemed only natural that there were two flights scheduled within 10 minutes of each other heading to Colombo.
The first, departing at 2:50 a.m., landed in the Sri Lankan capital at 10:00 a.m. The second, which left at 3:00 a.m., arrived in Colombo at a few minutes before 1:00 p.m! The reason? A not widely publicised stop-over in the Maldivian capital, Male.
“It looked beautiful, I must say,” said new UCB Media Manager Gerald de Kock, bravely keeping a smile on his face. “The team had all taken sleeping pills so they didn’t a thing, however!”
Fortunately, Supercricket’s correspondent was on the earlier flight and can exclusively reveal why South Africa’s top players were “bumped” onto the second flight. The Pakistan team occupied the business class seats on the more desirable flight.
“If the SA team thought they had it bad, they might like to know the Australian team had to fly from Dubai via Chennai (in India) because there was no room for them and the Pakistanis,” a member of the Emirates Aircrew explained early on Monday morning. So the Pakistan team always gets priority? “Yes,” the steward explained with a smile. “That’s just the way it is.”
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