Fun In The Sun
Comment and Analysis | 15th March 2013
The Nottinghamshire players are again using the same training base as last year, the cricket academy run by our former all-rounder Franklyn Stephenson.
It was immediately evident that the facilities have been improved over the last twelve months – it had just opened when we visited in 2012.
Whilst the whole of the ground, the practice area and the nets are top notch, the one improvement I was most pleased to see was in the pavilion.
Franklyn is one of those sportsmen who is understandably proud of his achievements and remembered to keep all the cuttings, photographs and memorabilia of his outstanding career.
"You may remember Tim Hudson, who attempted to set up a kind of Lashings XI many years ago, playing charity and celebrity fixtures and he called his team, The Outlaws!"
What’s more, he delighted in showing me them. The ball with which he took his 100th first class wicket in 1988 is beautifully mounted, there’s a pride in showing off a man of the series award gained during the controversial ‘West Indian Rebels’ tour of South Africa.
I can also reveal that Franklyn played for The Outlaws. Yes, we all know about his Notts’ record but he showed me a photograph of a team line-up for The Hudson’s Hollywood XI, which included himself, Beefy Botham, Viv Richards, Madan Lal etc.
You may remember Tim Hudson, who attempted to set up a kind of Lashings XI many years ago, playing charity and celebrity fixtures and he called his team, The Outlaws!
Our genial host gave us our first laugh of the day when he said he was also expecting to take delivery of an ice bath that very day – and it would be ideal for the players to use after their strenuous training session.
Some time later he disappeared, only to return on a golf buggy with an old, rusty tin bath on-board.
“I’ll just leave it here and go and fetch the ice,” he laughed.
Franklyn also let me in on a confidential secret – which I’m now about to break. I revealed that I’d been checking the Barbados weather forecast every day prior to our departure. Every day it was the same - 29 degrees.
“How hot do you think it is today Dave?” said Franky.
“32-33?” I guessed.
He told me that there isn’t a day goes by when it doesn’t reach 38 degrees in Barbados and that the average is probably round about near to my guess.
“The Barbados Tourism Authority feel that many people won’t come if we tell them it’s too hot,” he said. “Folks aren’t comfortable with anything over 30 degrees, so we always tell them it’s 29 here – and they keep coming back!”
I’ve seen Notts train countless times but the session they put in was as good as any I’ve witnessed. All 17 players here look fit and well. The pace bowlers were ramping up their speeds and the batsmen looked in good touch.
The evening function took us to Herbert House in the centre of Bridgetown, the home of the Museum of Barbados Cricket Legends.
I’ll name-drop here – it was nice to again spend time talking with Sir Garfield Sobers and to meet and listen to such greats as Sir Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith and Seymour Nurse.
Hall and Griffith are like an old music hall double-act. They must have used their routine countless times over the years – each sniping away at the other one about who was the better bat, who had the better bowling figures – who would have won a certain game but the captain made him bowl uphill into the wind and not at the other end.
As someone who loves the history of West Indian cricket (Ed: Dave’s book, Clarke’s Meadow and The Calypso Kings is still available from the Trent Bridge shop) I was practically salivating to hear these great memories.
We’re closing in on the first match of the tour – under lights on Saturday evening. It’s perhaps as well it’s being played so late – because “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum!”