Posted in England Lions
There is a battered grey sofa randomly abandoned in one of the stands at the Sharjah Cricket Ground, about 100 yards from the England Lions dressing room.
Like the rather unloved stadium, the solitary piece of furnishing looks like it has seen better days. The huge electronic scoreboard doesn't work, the advertising hoardings hoisted above the stands are in decay and there are wires everywhere. You cringe whenever someone picks one up.
While Dubai - the rich neighbour - has expanded at a staggering pace in the last decade, Sharjah has seemingly just been left to fester.
"I came here for a quadrangular series with England in 1985," said Bruce French, who is with the Lions helping Steve Davies and Craig Keiswetter with their glovework.
"The highest building in Dubai back then was about five stories high. The stadium in Sharjah is just the same as when I played there."
For the record - French made four (caught Steve Rixon, bowled Allan Border) as England lost by two wickets against Australia off the last ball in a thrilling first match. England then lost to Pakistan in the 'consolation final' with French scoring seven in the 43-run defeat.
French will be hoping for better results when England Lions begin their series with Pakistan A.
They start on Friday with the first of three Twenty20 matches and conclude with a trio of 50-over games. Sandwiched in the middle is an all-England Twenty20 where the Lions will be out to show their more illustrious stablemates that there is competition just behind them.
Peter Trego, who spoke to ECBtv after winning the man of the match award in the opening win against the UAE, said there was no reason why the Lions could not beat England.
Trego, with tattoos covering both arms in a style of which David Beckham would be proud, is persevere-and-you-will-succeed personified.
Ten years after playing for England Under-19s, the Somerset all-rounder is back in England's colours and hoping he might graduate to full honours for either of the two ICC tournaments that are coming up in the next year or so.
The rest of the Lions will be looking to do the same.