Saturday, 25 October 2008

OB's Test Match Blog - Bangladesh - Test One

Right, something I've been wanting to do for a while now, and well, as there's nothing to do here in Chittagong, Bangladesh, outside of training and playing, I thought I might as well start it up.

If your interested, read on (and excuse any spelling mistakes); if not... move on..

As I said above there is nothing to do here. Well, actually there is a lot to do. Chittagong is actually a pretty busy place. The countries main port and the 2nd largest 'city' with a population of 2.5 million (thanks wiki).

Now in real speak, it's a pretty scary place. Yes, worse than Chez Vegas on a Thursday night! The poverty is unbelievable, the living conditions are unbelievable, it is just one of those places that i would not have come to had it not been for cricket. You just can't escape the smells, the beggars, the homeless etc... Hence, we're not allowed out of the hotel apart from gong to training or to a game. In saying that we are not allowed to leave the hotel is maybe a little fib. Ten of us, last night, went to Pizza Hut (yeah, yeah, it's not great for ya, but it's a little touch of the West we've all missed). Pizza Hut is about 40 meters from the hotel. Across the main, and very busy, street. This 40m journey we had 3 armed guards with us. They would not let us walk the distance without their protection. That's how serious it is here. Oh, and in that 40m there and the 40 m back, we were groped, taped and molested by beggars the whole way. Not that pleasing at all. A couple of they guys actually got quite scared to the point of almost lashing out at these poor locals (and I say that without sarcasm!! So sit down PC police). It's fair to say, we'll be eating in from now on!

I've been in Bangladesh for 8 days now, 3 in Dhaka and 5 here. The 1st test starts tomorrow. Before coming here I had 2 weeks in Chennai, India as part of the NZ 'A' team. Playing in one 4 day Test against India 'A' (and doing pretty to, I might add). I couldn't have asked for a better preparation for here. Chennai was tough. The hottest and most humid place I have ever been. Daily temps of 38 with 60+ humidity. That was a shock after your 'Summer'.' But as I said, great prep for here. It's around 33 here with the same humidity, still stupidly hard work. I don't use the AC in my room at all as, I feel, the more I am in the heat, the better I will be in the heat. So quite often I'm sitting here, at the desk, sweating my like I'm out playing. Water is the key. Lots of it. We do have an unlimited supply of bottled water, so it's not hard to get hold of it.

Since I've been here I've been training, watching and being the best damn 'dirty' there is. A 'dirty' is one of the guys that isn't playing. I was out on the boundary driving the lads mad with demands on drinking the water or 'aqualite' that I had for them. They of course know they need to keep drinking, so it's a pretty easy task. Except it's 30 crappitty smacken 3 and I'm sweating as much as some of them... Ice towels for the bowlers in between overs swapped with a dry one to dry off as much sweat as can be done before the next over. It's a pretty important job; well, I keep telling myself that anyway! It does make a difference and anything to keep the guys that are playing as fresh as possible is important.

Today the team for the 1st test was named. Pleased to say that I am batting 11. Well, not so pleased about batting 11 (although my rightful spot), just very happy that I get to continue my test form. Todays training, the day before the match, is always a light one. Although at the ground for almost 2 hours, it's a session that you do what 'you need to do' to be fit, strong and confident going into the Test. Team was named before practice with is somewhat different to how the teams were named in Eng this series just gone. So I could go into practice and just sharpen up a couple of things in the nets. Bowled about 18 balls at about 80%, practicing 'cutters' (slightly slower balls that with 'cut', rather than seam, off the deck) as we know the surface is going to get 'tired' and take spin quickly. Felt good, and padded up. had a 20 min hit with some ok net bowlers. Then got some 'tennis ball' stuff: this consists of one guy (Hopkins (who Swiller know quite well), in this instance) serving into the ground red (heavy) tennis balls as hard as he can at my head. Need to keep practicing the short ball stuff. Evading, leaving and playing them defensively is the aim.... well actually, not getting hit is the aim, not getting out next!! This was all good till the 2nd to last ball, where Hoppy (who sweats a lot) had the tennis racquet slip out of his hand and hit Sausage Southee in the face while he was in his delivery stride and the net next door. Not the best way to end as session. Thankfully no damage to Tim, a little sore and a somewhat shocked. He'll be fine, and I'll find someone else to hit me tennis balls.

Practice done, back into the bus for the 20 min ride though scenery that is just to hard not to look at. People smiling and waving at us in our AC'd bus. It just doesn't seem right. These people have nothing, but they have enough to smile and wave to us. It does, certainly, make you feel humble.

Oh, and there goes another power cut. Another 'cute' thing about the hotel. As we train in the afternoon, and are not allowed out, we are in our, or somebodies else's, room a lot in the morning. The power will cut out maybe 10 times a morning for anywhere between a second to a minute. I had a quick 'sign off' chat with our bowling coach this evening after my meal in complete black out. Strange. These 'cuts' are not just in the morning, obviously, it's just that were in the hotel so much then and is most noticeable. If it happens after 6pm it's black out as it's dark here early. So that mean if you're around anyone, its punch and run time...

So there you have it, my first attempt at a blog. It's bed time now. 8.35pm. Bus leaves the hotel at 7.30am in the morning for the ground (a positivitly large sleep in compared to the ODI's, where the bus leaves at 7am. On the ground for warm ups at 7.45; kick off at 9am.) At least the tests start at 9.30am; warm ups starting 8.15am.

So hopefully Dan calls right tomorrow and we have 5 sessions (over the next 2 days) batting.

I'll try to add to this every night; will just depend on how many overs I've bowled.


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