England in Caribbean – 25th February 2019

There are direct flights between almost all islands in the Caribbean but seats are extremely limited. They cater for the normal, day-to-day demand but run out spectacularly quickly when an England cricket tour comes to the region. In order to secure a smooth passage in such times tickets need to be purchased moments after the fixture dates are announced.

For those not so quick off the mark it becomes a bit like plotting a London Underground trip for a first time visitor to London. Inevitably you’ll end up going in the wrong direction and back-tracking on yourself. As you can see from our journey from Barbados to Grenada, we covered about four times the mileage we actually needed.

Having landed in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, we were supposed to disembark and board another plane for our final destination of Grenada. But LIAT airlines suffered a partial attack of common sense upon realising that 68 of the 74 passengers onboard were all heading to the cricket. So it made sense to change crew and leave the passengers as they were. But in order to accommodate the six new passengers, everybody was required to change seats according to the second boarding passes we had been issued with in Barbados. Not a straightforward procedure on a small plane.

“Right,” said Darren Gough in a voice just loud enough to be heard by the whole plane, “when the music stops, everybody sit down!” Much laughter and mirth.

The teams, of course, are spared this chaos by traveling on a chartered plane, although their vast collection of luggage arriving at the airport hours early can mean that some ‘innocent’ bags get left behind simply because the baggage handlers run out of time and/or energy. In case you thought Chris Gayle’s self-styled moniker was only something heard but not seen, this is how his kitbags are labelled.

The Grenada Tourist Board exceeded even their colleagues in St.Lucia with the Reception Welcome party they laid on for both media and players. The press have a reputation for making the most of such functions with a delicious, complimentary buffet and bar but it was impossible not to notice how outplayed we all were by the West Indies players (buffet) and England’s (bar).

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