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Training, playing and sought-after meals

Posted in England in West Indies 2009

Timing is everything so they say, and as I browsed the newspaper websites I was amused to come across a "Top 10 Cricket Musicians" list on The Times Online.

Only a few nights before, an impromptu musical extravaganza had taken place in the hotel, with James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Tim Ambrose and myself playing an array of tunes on the guitar, accompanied by an excellent crowd in good heart. This chorus was well led by Ryan Sidebottom, who was bellowing out the classics as the guitar was passed around.

Triumphant performances one and all, and it will be interesting to present the following list (from The Times) to the lads - it will no doubt be the subject of much conjecture:

Top Cricket Musicians

1 - Graeme Swann, who performs in a band called Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations.
2 - Brett Lee, who plays in a band Six and Out .
3 - Colin Blythe, Edwardian spin bowler, who played the violin.
4 - Charlie Dagnall, former Warwickshire bowler, who sang in a band with his brother.
5 - Sulieman Benn, who has "a beautiful singing voice" according to friends.
6 and 7 - Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson, who played together in a reggae band called Big Bad Dread and the Baldhead.
8 - Alastair Cook, former chorist and now saxaphone player.
9 - Tim Ambrose, England's reserve keeper and an excellent guitarist.
10 - Mark Butcher, former England batsman and frequent public performer on the guitar.

Graeme Swann & Sulieman Benn

Graeme Swann wins the battle of the musicians after trapping Sulieman Benn leg before in Antigua

In other news, aside from that little Stanford matter, England's performance at the ARG was just one wicket away from being a complete display. Graeme Swann was superb in picking up 8 wickets in the match, including his first 5 wicket haul in Tests. This will pale into significance however once I reveal he is number one in the musicians list.

Hundreds for Captain Strauss and Paul Collingwood helped England to over 500 in the first innings, and despite Flintoff bowling on one leg he still reached 90 mph and came close to winning the game. The initial disappointment of coming so close to victory will have been tempered by the positives from the performance - Flintoff's fitness being the only (albeit considerable) negative from the match.

I should also mention the incredible speed with which the ARG was patched up and within a day or so hosting a Test match. As we've seen on ECBtv, it was a massive boost for all involved to take cricket back to St.Johns, and after the disappointment of the abandonment at the Sir Vivian Richards Ground (might need a new name for that, given the great man's reaction to the debacle), the people of Antigua clubbed together and helped deliver a superbly entertaining Test.

Finally, a special mention for the lady at the ARG who provided me with some quite delightful chicken lasagne to take back to my hotel. She saved it at lunch and had packaged it up for me. However, by the time I collected it after the press conference, evening was descending, which brought with it a considerable problem. The majestic aroma that rose from my rucksack obviously attracted the local blood-suckers (not the press) and a cloud of vicious mosquitoes chased me across the outfield.

Worth it, mind. In the words of Richie Benaud, who has just announced his impending 2010 retirement, 'marvellous'.

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