This summer I'm taking part in three cricketing tours: two with a representative U12 side - to Guernsey and Hampshire - and the third with my club to Holland. The Guernsey Tour takes place from 27-29 July... and I thought it would be an entertaining read to share my tribulations with you guys as I approach zero hour and the frightening prospect of responsibility for other people's children... or if not that, a useful release for my frustrations. Help...
Wednesday, July 25th
In two days’ time – less than that, 31 hours – I leave Exeter with twelve (in theory) Under 12 cricketers for a three-day tour of Guernsey. If I was given the choice of a single word to summarise my feelings ahead of the trip, I’d be looking at a toss-up between ‘terrified’ and ‘petrified’. There is so much that could possibly go wrong.
I’ve just finished reading Harry Thompson’s Penguins Stopped Play, recounting the story of the Captain Scott XI’s world tour. The pitfalls of cricket tours are, as Thompson regales, many and varied: but I had hoped that – on a three day séjour to somewhere forty minutes’ flight away – I would avoid the majority of them. Oh, why have I not learned that optimism is the first step on the path to letdown?
It’s now midnight in the small hours of Thursday morning, and in a shade under 29 hours I need to leave my room in Exeter (305 miles away) for the airport and the flight to the Islands. Last weekend, I had thought everything was sorted out and confirmed. I had the minibus. I had the insurance. I had twelve names (one an admittedly late addition, confirmed in the horizontal rain of Kentisbeare and based on little more than impulse and faith in what I think he can do rather than what I have seen him do). I had the Channel Island Cricket Board’s promise that the accommodation was sorted.
Then last week happened. The CICB emailed me to tell me that everybody needed to bring sleeping bags and a pillow, and that we would be staying in the Scout Hall in Vale. Before I could let my excitement at that prospect falter, I thought I had better contact flybe to check the details for the flight: to learn that we only had places booked for three adults and 11 children. So another place. £103 off the debit card. A wry grin and acceptance. Then today and the discovery that another player has pulled out... someone else knew; not me. So two days (in the loosest definition of the word) to find one more player. As I write, I’m hopeful that I’ve found a solution – and my ringtone tomorrow morning will herald a mixture of blind dread and desperate hope – but I don’t want to even begin to think about batting order yet.
I’m off to record an answerphone message to field the stream of enquiries I’ll almost certainly get along the M1, M42 and M5 tomorrow. Wish me luck; or pray for my soul.