England in West Indies 2003-04

Now it's good-boy nets for England

After England polished off the Vice-Chancellor's XI with a day to spare, they got down to business at the nets in Sabina Park today, watched by Freddie Auld

Roving Reporter by Freddie Auld in Kingston, Jamaica

March 7, 2004

Text size: A | A

After England's early win against the University of West Indies Vice-Chancellor's XI yesterday, there was no day off preening by the pool or swanning round the golf course, but a two-hour practice session at Sabina Park instead.

"These guys are true professionals," proclaimed Steve, part of England's Jamaican security team, who were all present and correct, proudly sporting their official England baseball caps. "They're always training, I've never seen a team train so hard. They're also a great bunch of guys. Vaughany, Graham, Nasser and Butch - great guys."

After I enquired if the four-man security squadron went everywhere with the team, even for a few beers after hours, Steve smiled and said, "Yes sir. We went to Quad, a nightclub, last week, there till 3am." At that point, his boss, Arthur, piped up in that impenetrable Jamaican patois - about all I made out was the word "journalist". After which Steve quickly added, in pukka English, "But that was after the Jamaica match had ended, and not all the team were there".

Anyway, back to the cricket. "It's a difficult one to call," Steve pondered. "We're West Indian, but we want to see the England guys do well. It sure will be close, though." One of the others then chimed in: "We all want to see Simon Jones - Jamaicans love fast bowling."

As we looked out from the pavilion to the sun-kissed pitch, the England players kicked off their session with a game of football, followed by catching practice, and then some good-boy nets. "Vaughan's a great player," Steve said, as he hoisted Gareth Batty out of the net. "But Lara is the king. You'll never see a better player in your time."

Wary of yet another sermon about how good Lara is, I strolled around the ground looking at the empty stands. It certainly felt like the calm before the storm. The groundstaff were erecting a temporary stand between the imposing George Headley Stand and the Kingston Cricket Club pavilion. And, to the left, others were putting up a ridiculously cheesy hoarding of some of the more celebrated members of the West Indian team pointing forwards over the caption "We gonna lick dem".

In the nets, the England squad were working up a sweat, and all eyes were on Mark Butcher. With his ankle heavily strapped, he and Marcus Trescothick got the nets going - and the balls flying. Butcher smeared Rikki Clarke out of the net, over the East Stand and onto the road outside. The news filtered through that Andrew Strauss's flight has been delayed. Maybe he shouldn't bother coming at all.

Freddie Auld, Wisden Cricinfo's assistant editor, will be following the England team in Jamaica and Trinidad.

RSS Feeds: Freddie Auld

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Freddie AuldClose

    'The guy you want to go to war with'

My XI: Martin Crowe on the gritty approach that turned Allan Border into a run-machine

    What good is a nightwatchman?

Rob Steen: In modern times, a few tailenders have thrived higher up the order, but the psychological advantage it gives the opposition can't be discounted

    Together they fall

Jarrod Kimber: England rose to No. 1 with a machine-like efficiency but the signs of an impending breakdown were quickly apparent

    Four in four, and stands by Nos. 10 and 11

Ask Steven: Also, most balls faced in a T20, highest limited-overs score at Lord's, and long lives after Test debut

A strange, brutal magic

Jon Hotten: As Ishant Sharma showed at Lord's, short-pitched bowling can open old wounds and create sudden uncertainty

News | Features Last 7 days

Ridiculed Ishant ridicules England

Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England

England seem to have forgotten about personality

They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity

Bigger concerns for England than Lord's pitch

While the pitch took most of the blame at Trent Bridge, at Lord's England will need to get more controlling overs from their spinners. The reality is there is no quick fix

Another battle, another defeat on Planet Al

Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now

'Even the bluddy Nawab!'

Pataudi Jr caught a young English fan's fancy for his princely ways and his heroic batting

News | Features Last 7 days