The Traveling Fox

02 Mar

Ben Fox

Our Roving Reporter is travelling in the UAE with the Scotland Team

Read his thoughts and share his experiences during this important week for Scottish Cricket



Published: 4 March 2013

Tour Diary #2

DubaiAfter a fascinating chat with my friendly taxi driver, who warmly welcomed me to Dubai, I finally made it to my destination - The Grand-Midwest hotel - at roughly 2am GST on Friday morning. My body clock was a little bit out of sync by this point – a combination of time zones (4 hours ahead here) and too much time travelling.

After managing a quick couple of hours sleep, in what was an absolutely stunning apartment, it was down to meet up with the squad at 8am the next morning.

It was great to see all the guys after a long and slightly lonely flight, although there was a little bit of confusion about the whereabouts of the bus! Eventually it arrived and  we crammed in all our kit before heading off to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium for a training session.

An interesting, and a little unexpected, thing about the Sharjah cricket ground is that it could probably best be described as a little ‘dated’. Don’t get me wrong,  it’s a lovely ground and I can see that in its prime it would have been a top class facility. However , it’s the icons of yesteryear  rather than today that hang on the wall, players such as like Darren Gough, Wasim Akram and Mark Waugh, and all with slightly dusty look to them.

One consistent issue that I have faced is the wi-fi (or lack of it), which is making me somewhat nervous ahead of the matches. I eventually located someone in the offices who managed to sort it all out (for the time being), but I would had not really expected to look on cricket reporting as a sort of technological bungee jump before!

The players had a great training session in the sun, working hard ahead of the initial T20 fixture.

First T20 v Afghanistan (3 March 2013)

It was a pretty good buzz sitting on the team bus as we entered the ground, and it gave us some idea of the atmosphere ahead. In the same manner as in places like India and Pakistan, the mob of supporters made an immense amount of noise, particularly after a local song played over the sound system. The contrast to the absolute silence whenever Scotland claimed an Afghan wicket was in itself quite intimidating!

There is no doubt at all who the local hero was – every time Hammid Hassan came into bowl, or even touched the ball, the masses were on their feet going crazy.

My initial worries about high octane sports reporting were confirmed when the internet dropped after the first few overs, despite the officials insisting that it was still working well. I eventually found a spot high up in the stands (this bungee jump analogy took on a new perspective), but even then it wasn’t the most fluent of connections,. A hazard of the occupation for all sports journalists/media folk/photographers and one I have an increasing sympathy with.

The crowd

When we got back to the hotel there was just enough time to get a quick interview with the humble Matt Machan in the restaurant, with the cleaners banging around clearly trying to recreate the atmosphere of the Afghan crowd! It was quickly shot, leaving Matt to get off to bed as it was nearly 1am. My work, however, wasn’t finished yet as the report, editing photos and getting the interview online meant a 4am bed time.

Although the result itself wasn’t quite what we might have hoped for, it was a fantastic experience and something that I’m really looking forward to again tonight! T20 is a frantic, fast paced format of the game and, after three 50 over warm up matches it must have been difficult for the guys to adapt to it straight away - particularly in these alien conditions.

Onwards and upwards!

Published: 2 March 2013

Tour Diary #1

What….you are going to sit the sun….watching cricket?! Thats not work."

It most definitely is (is my usual reply). It's a question and comment that has come up with increasing regularity in the run up to my departure, but I'm under no illusions. This is going to be a challenging few weeks for me – but a challenge I am really relishing.

I'm beavering away on this first blog onboard BA flight 109 to Dubai, on my way to join the Scotland cricket team ahead of what will be two very (VERY) important World Cricket League fixtures, in their quest to reach the 2015 World Cup.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to offer our fans, who sadly can't be out here, a bit of an insight into what happens on a tour such as this – so as well as my ‘official’ duties, I am going to try and keep up a meaningful blog over the period.

This will be my first international tour with the team. Needless to say, even though I will have a great deal of work to do, like any other cricket fan would be, I'm pretty excited!

After reporting the warm up games v the UAE Blues from sunny Scotland (no tongue in cheek intended, it has been lovely) I have been no stranger to early starts this week, and this morning was no different. After the usual kit emergencies and last minute packing (panicking) had all been negotiated, I made my way to Edinburgh airport.

 I have already had the pleasure of meeting most of the new county-based faces during the pre-tour training sessions and they make a great impression, both on and off the pitch - so, I'm looking forward to getting a few old and new faces in front of the camera during the ten days I am there.

In this digital age it's possible for everyone to easily distribute and access content instantly. For the next week or so, I will be doing just that as well, using twitter, Facebook and of course, the new look and ‘oh so much easier to update’ website.

The increasing levels of internet streaming of live events is clearly something that appeals to fans, and our friends at QuipuTV have already made some excellent broadcasts of previous Scotland matches.

I am fortunate enough to have been invited into the ICC main offices during my stay, to discuss the plans for the streaming of the two WCL matches. This is something I'm really looking forward to.

During my day of travel I have been treated to some of the most incredible aerial views - from a beautiful Edinburgh sunrise, to the snowy sunset baked hills of Turkey, and as I type, Kirkuk at night.

 Next stop, Dubai...

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