The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2014 includes a short piece that I wrote for its ‘Cricket Round The World’ section, about Uzbekistan’s first ever cricket tournament. Cricket Round The World this year comes from Colombia, Hungary, Iran, Nauru and Japan, as well as Uzbekistan and other places. Wisden 2014 has essays by Gideon Haigh, Ed Smith and its editor Lawrence Booth.
Created by Tatars, evolved by khans, tsars and Russians, and invigorated by cosmopolitan leaders over the last ten years to attract visitors from near and far; it would be passé to describe the centre of Tatarstan as a “melting pot”, were that not the meaning of Qazan, the word the Tatars chose for their town. Distant and accessible, Russian and Muslim, with spotless avenues and open spaces to complement its cultural credentials, Kazan is a treat to explore.
The sun rises above the palm trees as we leave Kemer. It lights up the Taurus Mountains on the left of the road, changing them from a purple silhouette into a series of steep, green hills. As we join the road to Antalya the bus stops every few hundred yards to pick up more holidaymakers from the hotels in its affluent suburbs. By the time we reach Gőynűk the bus is full, but its passengers are barely making a sound. Soon I am the only one awake. The sea to our right was calm, shimmering as the low sun above it threw bright, pale light on to the water. It is because of mornings like this that Turks call the Mediterranean Akdeniz – the White Sea.
I had a month to teach three Russians, a Ukrainian, a Bulgarian, a Slovenian and a Vietnamese – four lads and three ladies, none of whom had ever played before – how to bat, bowl and field. Finding time to practice together was difficult (I am surely the first captain to cancel a net because my best bowler was in Magnitogorsk), but three lunchtimes a week I took a Kwik Cricket set to London’s Regent’s Park, and made everyone try each of the skills. My teammates’ enthusiasm never wilted: anglophiles all, they threw themselves into the challenge of a complicated English game.
This month, the world’s most illustrious sporting spectacle will begin in one of its biggest and most iconic cities. From 27 July until 12 August more than 10,000 outstanding athletes will compete for 204 nations in the 2012 London Olympic Games. London will also host the world’s 4,000 finest disabled athletes in the Paralympic Games, from 29 August to 9 September. Their achievements will grab headlines across the globe – but it isn’t only in the stadiums where the adrenaline will be running high. There is Olympic-themed fun to be had all over Britain this summer and autumn, so your next visit is sure to be a personal best…
In July 2011 I was asked by Ukraine International Airlines to organise an interview with Fred Finn, the world’s most travelled man, for their in-flight magazine Panorama. Over 52 years of travelling Mr. Finn has flown more than 24 million kilometres, to 139 countries, and took more flights on Concorde than anyone else.
Our interview “Blue Sky Thinking: A Chat with an Aviation Legend” features some exciting locations, famous people, exotic stories and good advice, and can be found in the November 2011 edition of Panorama.