The reality of going on tour
Posted in Disability Cricket
If I had a pound for every time someone said 'enjoy your holiday' prior to departing on tour with one of our disability squads I'd be a pretty rich man.
With a week to go until our England Physical Disability squad depart for their first ever international series against Pakistan, I know I can expect more of the same from family and friends in the coming days.
The reality, of course, is very different. Whilst touring cricketers are undeniably privileged to have the opportunity to visit different countries to play a sport they enjoy, the hard work that goes into the tour both before departure and once overseas is seldom recognised.
Final preparations for the tour are currently underway. My home office currently resembles an adidas warehouse with different items of kit and equipment for the tour and our dining room has been taken over by my kit bag and the beginning of my packing efforts.
Whilst the squad will look resplendent in their team kit and leisure wear, I have discovered, as head of our touring party, that the slim fit adidas team wear is not designed for the fuller figure. So it will be chinos for me and I have amazed myself and appalled my wife at the variety that I have amassed over time. There's beige, brown, sand, stone, off white, cream and blue - just for a bit of variety!. Essential clothing for the discerning cricket administrator in my view.
Other essential items that are scattered around our dining room table are a selection of ECB polo shirts, sunglasses and a tie or two for formal functions. I always resist the offer of my wife to help pack in case she gets a bit too enthusiastic at the thought of my departure and invites me not to return.
Which brings me on to another aspect of touring, the impact on those left behind. Whilst I am engrossed in my work, many miles from home, my wife becomes a single, working mother of two.
The workload that I think we share in getting the children ready for school, or ferrying them to after school activities suddenly becomes a job for one and our two kids can be an absolute nightmare in the morning and my son seems to be playing one sport or another every night. To add to the sadness of leaving Jo and our children, this time I will be missing both children's birthdays which is never a good thing.
The flip side of course is that we will be travelling abroad to represent England.
This squad of 15 are the first ever physically disabled cricketers to leave England to play an international cricket series against another nation with the series being recognised by both country's governing body. It doesn't get any bigger for them.
They will leave with the hopes and thoughts of all the disabled cricketers that played before them, those that helped to set up our national league and whose playing days ended without the pathways that are now in place. We are all hoping for an England win. No pressure then.
What I can guarantee is that the boys have been prepared as well as possible and the significance of the series is not lost on them. They completely appreciate the opportunity that their talent has given them and will give 100 per cent to make the series a successful one for England.