Bracegirdle's Blog: Sachin, Franklyn And A Load Of Playful Monkeys

Comment and Analysis | 17th March 2012

An early rise brought rich dividends this morning.

Thanks to the jet-lag kicking in, I was wide awake from the early hours and able to follow Sachin Tendulkar’s progress on the internet, through the nervous nineties to finally achieve his 100th hundred.

The milestone coincided with the swimming pool here receiving its first occupants of the day at just after 6am.

Jake Ball, Ben Phillips, Andy Carter and Karl Turner were the early dippers, closely followed by Paul Harrison, one of the small group of Notts supporters who’ve made the trip out here.

My next treat of the morning came during a leisurely stroll to breakfast. Three, happy, playful monkeys came bouncing across my path before separating, with two running up the path of a nearby villa and the other bounding onto the roof and leaping down onto its unsuspecting siblings.

This part of the island is renowned for its Green Monkey colonies.

The suddenness of it startled me and I was kicking myself that my camera was still in its case. Fortunately these three weren’t alone. Lots of other family members could be observed in the grounds of the resort and I understand one even joined Scott Elstone on his verandah for morning coffee! 

A coach-load of players and associated hangers-on (yours truly) then set off to enjoy the first training session of the tour. I hadn’t realised what an auspicious occasion this would be – as it marked the inauguration of Franklyn Stephenson’s new cricket academy. The ground and facilities are, literally, brand new.

It’s a purpose-built centre at which Franklyn, the former Notts all-rounder, will coach promising youngsters. A local work-force downed tools to come and have a look as the warm-ups gave way to proper cricket out in the middle of the square, with Luke Fletcher, Ben Phillips and Paul Franks bowling to James Taylor and Michael Lumb at first, whilst the remaining members of the squad used the equally-unused new nets.

Franklyn, whom we’d seen upon arrival at the airport, was absent at the start of the day but there was plenty of evidence that he had been there. The pavilion contained probably fifty golf clubs of varying shapes, sizes and makes – with buckets full of practice balls.

The former all-rounder – one of those sickeningly-talented sportsmen, had swapped sports at the end of his playing days and became a golf professional.

For 24 years he was the club professional at nearby Sandy Lane, the plushest of the plush areas on this island. On the way to practice we went past the golf course and were shown some de-luxe apartments – the getaway retreats for the likes of Simon Cowell and Roman Abramovich.

Nets over, it was time for a bit of R & R and a stroll around the local area but there was no getting away from the cricket. The opening ODI between the West Indies and Australia was underway in St Vincent and everyone was following it.

Every vehicle that passed had the game on the radio and it didn’t take long to find a bar that was showing the match on television.

Sadly for the enthusiastic locals, my arrival coincided with the West Indies nose-diving from 97-3 to 104-9 – a truly catastrophic collapse.

As Sunil Narine holed out at long-on for nought, one wag couldn’t contain his disappointment, “Oh Man – Stop Monkeying Around”, he yelled.

Somehow it seemed appropriate!

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