BEING at home for the previous few weeks has given me the chance to relax – and visit Skeggy for the very first time.

Being a Yorkshire lad we always tended to go to Grimsby, Whitby, Scarborough or even Blackpool because they tended to be a bit nearer.

But I enjoyed my trip there with the family, even if the weather could have been better.

There was still a thick layer of snow on the ground, but after a pleasant walk along the coast I enjoyed tucking into some traditional fish and chips.

It reminded me of my days as a kid when I went away with my grand parents for some happy times.

Apart from trips to the seaside, I’ve had time to spend with my family, have caught up on the TV and sport and been to Swanny’s wedding.

I’ve also been looking at the interior of the house after we moved in before Christmas, which is something I really enjoy.

I like picking out the right combination of colours and getting the finishing touches just right.

There have still been fitness sessions with England at Loughborough just to keep things ticking over.

We needed to get at least 12.5 on the bleep tests to pass and I’m pleased to say we all achieved that.

Last, but by no means least, there has been a lot of work going into my benefit year.

I have been ringing around people and trying to get them to come along to my events and there have been meetings to attend.

The first event is on April 1 at the Belfry Hotel in Nottingham, which is approaching fast.

Former England Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan is expected to be there, along with the comedian Brian Conley and several of the England and Notts lads.

Of course, the cricket always has to remain the priority and that’s why I’m glad to have such a fabulous committee to help with so much of the organisation.

I’m hoping to be in a position to announce a full calendar of events soon. There is plenty to look forward to – but those occasions will probably make me more nervous than when I play cricket.

ONE of the great benefits of being an international cricketer is that you get to visit some wonderful places – and I have never been to anywhere quite like Dubai.

I landed here on Sunday as part of the England squad to play two Twenty20 matches against Pakistan today (Friday) and tomorrow.

I’ve never been here before and I have to say it’s an intriguing and amazing place.

Everything is enormous, with some very lavish buildings and they are still finishing off parts of it.

I took a look around one of the shopping centres with Liam Plunkett the other day and we couldn’t believe that there was even an ice skating rink and ski slope inside!

It’s a little bit like Las Vegas in that you only have to travel for about 10 minutes and you are out in the middle of the desert.

Like South Africa it is very hot, but the air is dry and it takes a little bit of getting used to.

That’s why it’s good that we’ve had a practice match against England Lions to ease ourselves into the cricket before taking on Pakistan.

From my own point of view, I’ve been very happy with how things have been going – I feel I have been bowling well for a while.

Now I’m hoping to clinch a regular place in the side, that’s the aim.

I was pleased with how I finished the tour to South Africa and now it is a question of trying to carry that form on out here.

The games coming up are important for me because it’s about making a good impression. The confidence is certainly there.

Pakistan have endured a tough tour of Australia, but sometimes when a team has suffered a few defeats that is when they can be at their most dangerous.

They are very much a hit and miss team, but when they are on a high they have some wonderful players.

I’m not sure how the ball will swing out here, but in Twenty20 it doesn’t usually move around too much.

Still, I’m hoping it will be a successful couple of days for England and myself and it will serve as a useful build-up to the World Twenty20 in the West Indies in May.


IT has been a turbulent last few months for Notts County but I’m hoping things will settle down now.

With Ray Trew having taken over from Peter Trembling, what the club really needs is some stability.

It is obvious a big loss that Sven-Goran Eriksson has left the club because he was a very popular guy and could have helped the Magpies to much bigger and better things.

But if Notts could not afford to keep him without the large scale investment they were searching for, then that is the way it has to be because they have to look after themselves.

One man doesn’t make a team as they say, no matter who they are, and it is something I’m sure County can overcome.

With Trew revealing the club has significant debts, the first aim now has to be to try to keep as many of their top players as they can.

People like Lee Hughes, Kasper Schmeichel, Ben Davies and others have been terrific and, having had such a good run of late, they need to hang on to those guys to keep the momentum going.

As the oldest League club in the world, it would be a shame if they lost the ambition that has been shown since the summer.

I don’t think anyone wants to see them languishing in the bottom division with the history they have behind them.

It’s good to see that the new owners are looking to appoint Dave Kevan until the end of the season.

He has done a great job as caretaker manager and he knows the players, which is important.

That is the first part of stabilising things at Meadow Lane. Hopefully the rest will follow.