Tour Diary - Dubai and Abu Dhabi
After enjoying two weeks playing and training under the Caribbean sun and our eventual defeat to Derbyshire in the semi finals of the T20 trophy, it was immediately back to Gatwick airport on the overnight flight for an early morning pick up and return to Edgbaston.
The 13 days in Barbados had provided exactly the sort of preparation that would be required for the new season ahead, and Director of Cricket, Dougie Brown was delighted with the way things had gone once again for the Bears in the West Indies.
Back at Birmingham airport on Wednesday morning Jim Troughton, Varun Chopra and Dougie Brown were interviewed for Sky Sports News before boarding the plane which would take us on the 6 ½ hour flight into Dubai International airport and then on to our hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road under the guidance of Sportarabia who would be our liaison for this trip.
Day one was chance to relax and get on to local time – so most of the group stayed relatively close by the hotel although a few did find their way around the sights of Dubai in the afternoon.
On Friday we travelled out to the 7’s stadium, which is approximately 30 minutes drive from Dubai where the Dubai T20 tournament was already in full swing.
Both Lancashire and Sussex were taking part in games against an Emirates XI and the MCC side, who we would be facing a few days later in Abu Dhabi. The Bears got stuck in to working with the coaching clinics during the day and there were plenty of happy smiling faces as our boys made a lot of friends as they passed on their knowledge to the youngsters who gathered in large groups around the net area.
There was also a great chance to catch up with many familiar faces from the County cricket circuit who were in Dubai for the tournament including former Bears, Jimmy Anyon and Andy Miller (both with Sussex). By mid afternoon and the tournament starting to reach its natural conclusion, our party once again boarded the coach for another 2 hour trip down to Abu Dhabi and our eventual home for the 4 day game starting on Sunday.
As guests of the MCC for this trip the facilities provided to the group have been excellent, not least of which is the Yas Viceroy hotel situated across the formula one track in Abu Dhabi and offers wonderful facilities and service 24/7.
During breakfast on Saturday we started to recognise one or two familiar Warwickshire supporters who had flown across to support the Bears on tour.
Saturday evening was our first chance to get out on to the field at Abu Dhabi cricket club stadium for a floodlit practice with pink cricket balls and the prospect of our first 4 day game of the 2013 season just hours away.
So much of the planning and preparation for the season starts here and inevitably all eyes would be on the scores coming in, so it was nice to welcome BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s radio commentator Clive Eakin who would be with us throughout, and would provide ball by ball commentary on line for those back at home.
Warwickshire’s Champions match against the MCC will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Simply click the link from 10.30am each day between Sunday and Wednesday to listen live: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/21850392.