England in Caribbean – 1st March 2019

There was a moment towards the end of England’s innings during the fourth ODI when the West Indies had three deep mid-wicket fielders. Three fielders – all at deep mid-wicket. The thing is, they were neither tall enough nor enough of them. It was the first time I’d seen three deep mid-wickets, at least in professional cricket.

Barely two hours later there were, once again, three fielders at deep mid-wicket – Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales and Moeen Ali. The batsman was Chris Gayle and he was about 120 not out. Just as with Buttler, three wasn’t nearly enough. Besides, they would have needed to be amongst the crowd to have any chance of taking a catch.

Of course it was exciting. It is exciting to see sixes hit and there were 46 moments of excitement. That was a lot of excitement. Imagine receiving 46 Christmas presents, or 46 birthday presents. That would be exciting. There would also be an awful lot of wrapping paper and a great many ‘thank you’s to be delivered. There are, of course, only so many ways you can say thank you, and only so many ways you can describe a six. And there certainly aren’t 46 of them. So apologies to any listeners who felt we were being repetitive. It’s just that, we were. But wasn’t it exciting?!

Just a little something to encourage the bowlers would have been good. Dare I say – even a bit better?

Nonetheless the crowd paid top dollar (the cheapest seats were around EC$50 which is two main meals and a couple of beers at a local restaurant – make that four main meals and four beers from as street barbecue.

But the people came, despite the cost and early start, and they were showered with birthday and Christmas presents, two of whom were showered so hard they required medical treatment.

For me the Caribbean journey is coming to an end, one game short of the full ODI series – but, fortunately, my great friend and touring partner of 25 years, one of the best freelance television cameramen in the business, Tony ‘PJ’ Hoffman has promised to send some sights from St,Vincent so we can see the remainder of the tour through his eyes. Thanks PJ! Beers at Peddlars when you return!

In the meantime, I left Granada at 5:50am to fly to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where I booked a transit hotel room for my 12 hours in the country. Modest, clean and comfortable – perfect for purpose. Later tonight I fly St.Lucia and then overnight to Gatwick where I change to Heathrow, and wait another eight hours before checking in for the next overnight flight to Johannesburg. I thought it might be fun to wear the same t-shirt through the journey in order to count how many different airline meals I could spill on it – but decided that was puerile so, instead, will be traveling with two spairs. And some sleeping tablets.

One final drink with my two favourite men on your, Often blamed when something goes wrong which they had nothing to do with, constantly pestered to find out who did our itineraries (and then required to listen to bad language), their reserves of patience are tested  – stress-tested. Sound engineer Adan Reed rigs the studio and commentary box for two days before and de-rigs for 4-5 hours after the commentators have left. Senior producer Sal Ahmad is by his side every step of the way It is the attraction of opposites – Adam eats meat and drinks beer. Sal does not. Adam can eat more meat and drink more beer, Sal may upgrade from Diet Coke to the real thing and explore the possibility of a lentil burger.

However they get the job done, they do – and brilliantly. Neither was on stage to accept our SJA Radio Production of the Year Award two nights ago, and probably never will be, but I hope the management in suits who were there at least spared a thought for Adam and Sal, Always present, never a sick day contemplated, never mind taken. How could they? The show goes on, of course…  but not without them it doesn’t!

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