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Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?

Sun and Sand

By Grockle
January 17 2012

A couple of days early from my planned update but these automatice computers have no concept of flexibility it seems.  Thursday sees me leave Grockle Minarets for the desert air of Dubai and the England v Pakistan Test series... Let's hope they last until then!!

Pakistan can't play at home and the Gulf is desperate for these world events to be played at their modern sports facilities.  Hence the arrival of the two squads in an unfamiliar enrivonment to play a Test series.  Three Tests, Four ODI's a a couple of T20's in January and early February.  Also hence the arrival of a Somerset webmaster from just down the road to do a 'Bagpuss' of old and give you a bit of internationasl cricket for your non too warm winter evenings.


I arrive in Dubai at 9:40 on Thursday morning on the "Muscat Redeye" to have a look at the Dubai Sports City and the new International Cricket Stadium.  The radio commentary today suggest this is not a heavily attended match even though the tickets are cheap and the facilities should be second to none.  The ODI crowds are expected to be much bigger but for now parts of the ground seem to be cordoned off and some Barmies have bought two tickets for different stands so that they can pop between the area in the sun and the area that has a bar.

I've never been here before so I hope to give you a new eye on the world HQ of cricket.  That is if I can find the main office to get my accreditation on Thursday morning.  It'll be an adventure anyway - looking forward to my evening in the Coral Oriental Hotel - wherever the hell that is and a sedate Friday breakfast before popping to the probable end of the match on Day 4 - Pakistan stuffed us today for less than 200 and go into Day 2 with all 10 wickets after proving we still can't play good spin.


More in a couple of days people....


Day 3

Arriving in the strange shopping mall come building site that is Dubai is strange in itself.  That's before you even think about the fact that you are coming to the heart of the desert to watch the English summer game.  But the temperature is a warm 20 degrees C and once the taxi driver has finally worked out where the hell Dubai Sports City is (he only had to ask four other drivers on the way)and has deposited me at the Head Office (only to find that despite being told to go there I need to pick up my accreditation from the stadium itself) it is nice to see bat hitting ball again.


The strangeness continues with the fact that the press corps almost outnumbers the spectators in this blue bowl of a stadium - 25,000 seats, probably 2,000 of them occupied by a predominently English crowd.

Anyway I get into my place between the Times and the Metro just in time to  witness Cheema being stumped to end Pakistan's first innings.  England need 146 if Pakistan are to bat again and my first Test really starts with Cook and Strauss walking out to face Gul and Cheema just before lunch.

Taking a three off the first ball bowled is a positive start but it doesn't take long before debates are hotting up as Strauss is given out by Bowden caught behind trying to flick the ball away.  The captain refers the decision and the third umpire, using 'Hotspot' (allowed in this game) confirms the decision even though there is no evidence from the technology that Strauss hit the ball.  Within 15 minutes the clack of wordprocessor keys suggests that the major debate today is why use 'Hotspot' if you aren't going to accept its' evidence.  Lunch arrives with England on 16 for 1 with Cook on 2 and Trott on 8.  A long afternoon is ahead for the men from the Northern climes!!

After a lunch where you can watch four England captains stuffing themselvews because the BBC line has gone down (name them then people....).  It always surprises me when I see these guys at these does.... because;

a) They are all a lot bigger than you think they would be (not in terms of fat but in general terms of size - tall and big boned most of them)

b) They are all looking old this winter - I'm not sure whether it's the light but it is something,  ITB isn't looking bad by the side of some of the others though NH is still looking like he could pop out and bolster the England innings any time they ask him.

The game resumes and within 3 overs England's woes increase as Cook gets tucked up by one he seems to want to pull from Gul. He neither pulls it or gets his bat out of the way and simply provides an easy catch to the men behind the wicket and after 12 and a half overs England are 25 for 2 with a patient but pretty worthless 5 from 'our Alistair'.

In comes KP and immediately on comes Ajmal!! But don't expect patience from Mr Pietersen.  Two overs later and he is looking to put Umar Gul into the seats, top edges it and succeeds in putting the ball into the hands of a grateful Pakistani fielder coming in from the boundary.  8 balls and it is 25 for 3.  The malls beckon me towards their tempting doors this Friday!!

In comes Mr Bell... on a king pair and probably expecting another doosra. Luckily he has a ball from Gul first and he copes with that quite easily. We now get to watch Ian versus Saeed and the Pakistanis increase the pressure by putting Rehman on at the other end.  The cameramen don't help the situation for Ian when he sees on the huge screenin the stadium a closeup shot of his name on the scoreboard follwed by a panning shot to the 0* by his name.  But in true Belly style he proceeds to shimmie up the wicket and hit Ajmaal over his head for a four to get off the mark.  Well done sir!

England in Dubai

It doesn't help though because Ajmaal goes back to his proper end (he finished an over for Cheema when he pulled up with a hamstring after 2 balls) and 'doosras' him with the first ball fo the 21st.  Bell asks for the review, turns to see it, sees how plumb he was and gives himself out before the umpire can confirm it.  35 for 4 and we already have Morgan in before 2:00 on the third day.  The only promising thing is that Trott is still there and scoring really slowly which suggests that he is going to make a hundred plus!!

The 50 comes up with a very comfident cover drive from Mrogan but it belies the postion to be honest because this has all the makings of a significant defeat (the sixth big one of the Strauss era - thank you Mr Kidd for the statistics).  Most people here are happy they are going to get the majority of a day off tomorrow.

It seems even more likely when, after it looks like Trott and Morgan have steadied things, Rehman gets one to drift away from the newer man and he is dismissed for 14 at 74.  England trail by 72 but in batting terms, they trail by a hell of a lot more than that!!

By Tea we have staggered to 75 for 5 and we are now hoping that Trott and Prior either make a fight of it in the last 38 overs with a turning ball or get out and we fold up in about an hour meaning we all have no reason to return tomorrow.  The latter seems the more likely scenario.

After Tea we are looking for a foght back but we have a spinner on at one end who is getting something from the pitch and has considerable ability to use it and a paceman at the other who is having one of his good Gul games rather than a poor one.  Trott is struggling to get the extra run he needs for a dogged 50 and eventually tries too hard to cut it off Gul and is caught behind for 49.  Really the hope of making a fight of this goes with him.  Broad joins Prior but not for long as Ajmal then fires one in that keeps low and strikes our keeper straight in front.  87 for 6 becomes 87 for 8.

It gets even worse when Swann is also ajudged in front at 88 off the rampant paceman but the Pakistani celebrations are cut short when the Englishman is reprieved by a no ball review by the umpires.

To take my head away from this rubbish and show you how artificial this whole scene in front of us is, let me show what it looks like 'around the back';

Dubai skyline

Blasted Earth behind (and all around) the ground

The 100 arrives 4 balls into the 45th over, followed by a Pakistani review of Swann which was found to be going over.  That's all the reviews done and we are back to umpire defined cricket.

I also thought we ought to continue the occasional series "Where the great and good pee"... it's also quite a good visual metaphor for the batting I have seen today;

Dubai bogs

Dubai International Cricket Stadium's little boys room :-)

'Nelson' arrives after another 'nearly out' to Ajmal but the two bowling allrounders are putting up some resistance in the shadows of the late afternoon with 25 overs left.

A spirited rearguard by Broad and Swann looks on the cards as Rehman and Hafeez take over the bowling requirements.  It ends just after Swann has his a six when Broad is caught trying the same thing at 135.  Tremlett comes out and faces one ball before he is also caught behind and we are one wicket left with 11 runs to avoid the first innings defeat since Johannesburg.  It doesn't look hopeful.  Rehman is on a hat-trick as Anderson just pulls his bat out of the way to leave a ball that just slides past the top of the off stump.

With Jimmy on strike, Gul looking for a five fer and Ajmal looking for a match ten fer this has a morbid fascination but as a game of cricket it was over the other side of Tea (possibly even one hour after lunch). 

Nevertheless there is a cheer as Swann top edges over the keeper to make Pakistan bat again, he then shows he can do it by gliding the next one through the covers to take his country past 150. Then the joy is all over as Swann is fooled by a slower one and gives a catch off a leading edge in the covers.  160 all out is abysmal but Ajmal's 10 wickets is worth the ovation he gets and Gul would have been as deserving of 5 if he had got it.  Swann got 39 and made as many in that innings as Strauss, Cook, Bell and KP made in both (thanks once again Mr Kidd)!!


Just about sums it up really.  Very poor.  We can only hope it is a bit of a glitch and nothing more.

15 to win and many here seem to think Pakistan will manage that tonight in the 14 overs they have left.  I'm going to go out on a limb and agree with them.  Hafeez and Taufeeq come out with the umpires while 5 coaches take the English bowling attack and Matt Prior through some kind of warm-up.  Jimmy nearly gets Hafeez with one that goes away from him off the pitch but goes wide of second slip just off the ground.  He gets four and takes 3 off the next ball and it's 7 off the first over.

Broad takes the second as the 'Ring of Fire' (400 spotlights around the top awning of the stadium which light up every area of the pitch because of the angles they are set at) sparks into life at 5:14.  Stuart bowls a maiden so the challenge is down to get them in the third.  No chance, James goes for nothing as well.

Two fours in the middle of the fourth put the English out of their misery and sends the very small but highly vocal Pakistani supporters into hysteria along with the press corps who now have a day they weren't expecting.

Me too, lie in, breakfast and then a wander around the sights of Dubai before a leisurely flight back to reality.  More to come from Abu Dhabi next weekend.

Enjoy the rest of your day one and all - and leave the highlights.... they really aren't worth it unless you want to watch quality foreign bowling.

The Strauss Press Conference

Andrew agreed England were caught off guard in the first session of the first day and Pakistan made sure they never got back on an even keel.  He was disappointed with the batting performance especially on Day 1 when the wicket wasn't a 50 for 5 strip.  He said batsmen needed to be "clear about their method".  Ther was little turn but he said that against quality spinners the first 12 to 18 balls faced are the most important and players who negotiated that period seemed to find it easier.  Unfortunately not many got past that phase of their innings.  England did well in the build up to this Test series and did not come into it 'under-cooked or under prepared.

He was asked about the DRS and stated that the decision against him wasn't anything really significant in the course of this game but a system with less errors was desirable.

Pretty honest - let's hope they come back stronger in a week's time.





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Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what? (IP Logged)
17/01/2012 16:14
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:01:26:03:28:50 by Grockle.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
17/01/2012 23:42
I am sad that the publication of this article has not prevented this forum from going into 'Test mode', hence the recent lack of posts. However, it is still possible for people to post in this forum by adjusting the site's URL from to Hopefully my tip will now result in the site returning to its former glories.

I comprehensively wrote about this process on 12th July 2010 and 6th March 2011.

Hopefully England will recover during the remainder of this match.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
18/01/2012 10:50
Thanks Jonathan for that information - the 14 day rule is the burden of every editor in their off season.


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
RadstockRob (IP Logged)
18/01/2012 12:02
Apparently travel to and from the ground is very scarce so maybe try to prearrange it.Beer £6 a pint.No wonder the Barmy Army are quiet!The trumpeter was asked to refrain frrom playing yesterday.
I hope play lasts long enough for you.England will have to bat better second dig.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 07:26
Right so I arrive in the stadium just in time to send the last Pakistani batsman (Cheema) back to the hutch for a stumped duck. I also stop that flaming spinner adding to his half ton and England are left in this blue empty bowl needing to get 146 before they require the Asian side to bat again.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:01:19:08:07:04 by Grockle.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
RadstockRob (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 07:39
Glad you got there in reasonable time.That spinner that got a half ton was the keeper!

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Mike TA1 (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 08:31
He can spin a good yarn behind the stumps.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 08:50
Yep thanks Rob, got my Saeeds mixed up with my Adnans (partly because someone else pronounced it wrong but you have to check your facts!).

Flaming good job anyway Ajmaal's had enough fun this Test!


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
RadstockRob (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 08:53
Got to keep you press guys on your toes!

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 09:03
I passed on your collective congratulations on to George Dobell for his move to Cricinfo. I know a number of you (including me) appreciate his writing and it was nice that he came and said hello first, mostly out of curiousity as to what the hell I was doing this far from Taunton.


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Mike TA1 (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 09:06
Did you tell him to get away from me??

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Mike TA1 (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 09:08
Did you enlighten him on this/your site Grockle and does he read this site?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 09:58
He knows of it Mike (as does the Times it seems) and we've had lunch at Taunton before now... but I still don't expect people to remember us in their full and complex careers.

The man from the Times (not Ivo T) wondered how I was going to put a Somerset slant on this story. Then provided it himself by reminding me that an ex-Somerset opener was captaining England.

It also seems that Cheema is an honorary Devonian having played club cricket there for many seasons. No idea where but I'm sure someone can enlighten me.


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
AGod (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:18
Suspect the Pakistani batting will still fold to lose their team the match, but I'm all but certain that the reason for the poor batting by England must, surely, be the fact that players that are not playing in this match played two CC games too many during 2011...

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
SheptonPaul (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:34
Pak batting will only fold if they get to bat again, AG!

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
old boy! (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:38
Suspect the Pakistani batting will still fold to lose their team the match.

Hope you are right AGod, but I suspect that we will have folded first, which would avoid the need for a double fold!!!

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
old boy! (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:46
10.43 am 75 for 5!!! Where art thou Mother??
Lightning doesn't strike twice - at least not in Dubai. I think we can safely put this down to Grockle arriving to loud cheers and putting our batsmen off!!

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Bobstan (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:47
Fancy getting your Adnans mixed up.

I never get my Adnams mixed up.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 10:51
I was a strange surprise to find out that some of the old lags of the box knew what Grockles was!! Seeing the TMS lot was also funny - the dress regulations of the BBC have been dummed down it seems. The Sky guys look much more dapper. Sir Geoffrey being here is a new and entertaining aspect - he is no less subtle off mike you won't be surprised to know.


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
AGod (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 13:09

Perhaps they'll need to impose Strauss on another County at some point soon, in order to resurrect his form?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Wickham (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 14:55
Thanks for the reports, Grockle. I hope that your day off is more enjoyable than today proved to be.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Bagpuss (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 18:17
Cheema played for Cornwood, near Ivybridge, in 2011. Took a hat-trick in one match too I think. Has played several seasons there.

Edited - spelling and factual errors!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:01:19:18:21:09 by Bagpuss.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Bagpuss (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 20:07

Check shirt near the back. Is this our Man in Dubai?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
RadstockRob (IP Logged)
19/01/2012 20:17
Do you mean the one picking his nose?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 07:28
Getting rid of a hangnail actually Rob and it's a blue flowered surfing shirt I'll have you know!

Yay!! Fame..... now where is the sodding fortune?


Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
old boy! (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 07:49
Where's your Grockle shirt?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
AGod (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 09:36
England's professed confidence that they will hit back in the second Test is probably justified, based on recent track record.

I use the qualifier "probably," because the recent track record of all batsmen not named I J L Trott against the Pakistan bowling attack may well give the lie to the notion that this game represented an "aberration," by the England batsmen.

Remember, the England batsmen were largely dominated by Pakistan in the home series against them, too, albeit in vastly different conditions.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Sloop John B (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 10:14
And what trenchant question did you ask Grockle?

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Trevor Gard's Box (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 16:03
On UAE television they have made a re-make of "The Flintstones". People in Dubai don't seem to like it but those in Abu Dhabi do......

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:01:20:16:27:59 by Trevor Gard's Box.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Clarence Parker (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 16:43
Let's hope that they don't have a Barney over it then.

Re: Middle Eastern Travels - Dubai or what?
Grockle (IP Logged)
20/01/2012 19:18
I listened rather than asked... it was pretty obvious what the answer was going to be to any question about form and issues.... we'll do better in the second Test and we needed to get our act together.


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