I was delighted to be in the UAE for the last two tests of the Pakistan series in Dubai and Sharjah this autumn. It was ten days of cricket, 35° of heat, and in Dubai, the most comfortable armchair seat I have ever had in any ground in 50 years of watching cricket!
The cricket was always interesting, although the run rate and the subsequent scores were not astonishing. The matches were very close but the results did not quite go as we had hoped.
That having been said, I was once again privileged to be accompanied by 20 wonderful Howzat Travel tourists, all very interesting and sociable in their nature. Obviously the bar of the glorious Sofitel hotel, on Jumeirah Beach, was an early evening gathering point for us all before we went our various ways for the nights entertainment.
The hotel boasted a wonderful restaurant, but the area was full of fine eating establishments, a very well positioned hotel!
There are very many things to do Dubai such as sand safaris or a visit to the Burg Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Several of our group opted to do both and some explored the numerous high-quality shopping malls or the nearby Marina, lots of things to do and lots of fun to be had.
We closed our first week with a tremendous buffet on the Veranda of the Sofitel, Howzat Travel were delighted to introduce Charlie Dagnall as our guest for the evening. He was very interesting and had plenty of amusing anecdotes from his playing days. He was very entertaining and everyone made comment on what a tremendous evening it was, and what a pleasure it was to have Charlie as our guest, particularly being able to put a face to a relatively new Test Match Special voice.
A change of hotel for the second week saw us at the Flora Grand. A slightly more modest hotel close to the airport and more importantly, the Sharjah cricket ground. This hotel had the most delightful staff who befriended many of us and gave a great service. As ever there was lots of good food options around, including a hearty breakfast at the Flora Grand with numerous good restaurants in the area.
Each morning we travelled traffic free to the Sharjah Cricket Club. The cricket again was very interesting over the five days and we were entertained by Pakistan’s own ‘Barmy Army’ throughout.
I think it is only fair to say at this point how hard the England team worked in such very hot conditions. Although they were unsuccessful they did give everything they had. Well done them for entertaining us throughout.
One of the delights of this trip was to recommend a fabulous Italian restaurant to our touring couple who celebrated an important wedding anniversary. It was wonderful to know how happy they were the next day having enjoyed a fabulous Italian meal and given pride of place in a wonderful restaurant.
On the last night we had our farewell dinner on a Dhow, I must admit this was my first trip on such a vessel and I was not disappointed. As always the food was great, drinks flowing and laughs plentiful. On this occasion John Etheridge, cricket correspondent for the Sun newspaper, was our guest. He is an old friend of Howzat Travel and from the comments made afterwards, he proved to be very popular with our tourists once again.
This was once again a very successful and enjoyable tour. I always believe that we have such wonderful tourists with Howzat Travel, everyone has great fun, great laughs and takes home lots of memories despite the results…
As tour managers it so much fun for my colleagues and I to travel with such delightful people, we always look forward to seeing everyone again. Thanks for coming; you were all great fun to be with.
I cannot wait for South Africa.