February 11, 2009

Andrew McGlashan on England in West Indies, 2008-09

Fresh clothes at last

Andrew McGlashan

First up, my bags didn't make it onto my flight. After standing for 15 minutes by the carousel I, and about a dozen other people, caved to the inevitable. We would be wearing the same clothes again today. Apologies to anyone who sat down wind of me.

We all approached the LIAT baggage agent who, of course, had the process down to a tee. He'd seen it all before, in fact with the previous flight and no doubt the next one as well. Asking what the problem was he said "overweight," which I thought was a bit harsh as I don't think my waist had expanded that much despite all the jerk chicken and tea-time doughnuts.

After filling out the form – "only I know the codes," the agent said when asked if people could do their own – he said the bag would be delivered by 11am today. I left my hotel at nine to go to the England net session, and when I returned at 2pm my bag was waiting for me at the reception. When I tried to lift it I realised what the man had meant by overweight. Must pack lighter in future, but a change of clothes has never felt so good.

So the concerns about LIAT were true, but in their defence they also lived to their later promise. Thousands of people at Heathrow's terminal five had to wait a lot longer than 12 hours for their luggage to arrive.

Anyway, enough of the bag stories (at least for now) this is, after all, a cricket tour.

England's players had their first chance to release some of that tension that has built up during, and since, their stunning (for the wrong reasons) collapse for 51. It's always interesting to watch players go about their routines, especially when they have sunk to such depths.

The challenge, though, was finding the session. They had been scheduled to train at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium from around 9.30am, but when we pulled up there was distinct lack of cricketers. So it was back in the taxi and a quick trip to the Recreation Ground in St Johns and an unexpected rapid tour of Antigua from south to north.

For the record, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff looked in good nick – it was a case of keep your eyes on the ball when they were both pinging the spinners out of the nets. Ian Bell, though, had a bit of a rough time against the quicks, but the one who had the biggest struggle was Tim Ambrose. He began in the spinners' net, facing the combined skills of Pietersen, Mushtaq Ahmed and a local youngster, so nothing too taxing there. But then in the quicks' net (or probably more accurately by now, the medium-pace net), he was twice bowled, once by Ottis Gibson and then by another net bowler.

Now, it may not seem important that England's reserve keeper could hardly lay bat on ball, but if Matt Prior goes down on the morning of the game Ambrose is in. And, he is set to play in the fourth Test anyway because Prior is flying home for the birth of his child. Better have some more nets before then, Tim.

The Antiguan bowlers helping out with the session all enjoyed the chance to bowl at the England batsmen and certainly put plenty of effort in. So much so that one of the quicks pulled up with what seemed like a hamstring strain and was helped out by the England physio Kirk Russell. Normally he has enough injuries to deal with from his own team, but today everyone came out unharmed. At least physically.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew McGlashan
Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

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