Listopedia: Cricketing Nation Holidays
I never thought the sport I adored playing as a kid could not only become my job, but also take me to so many fabulous countries. Cricket has taken me around the world and I will never take these experiences for granted. I’d like to share a few of my favourite spots to work and play in the World’s Cricketing Nations.
I highly recommend Sri Lanka as a unique holiday experience for the whole family. While third world, it’s a beautiful country with so much to see and do. You’ll definitely fall in love with the Sri Lankan people!
Australia are touring Sri Lanka this year starting late July for 3 Test Matches. This year might be the year to check it out!
Colombo: The Galle Face Hotel is a beautiful testament to both Sri Lanka’s colonial past and independent present. The hotel started out as a Dutch villa, which was a meeting place for gentlemen of the colonial era. Originally opening in 1864, by the late 19th century it would be known as the best hotel East of Suez.
Kandy: Certainly a great city for test cricket, what’s truly amazing about Kandy is the surrounding regions. Known as the ‘tea country’, Kandy is located in the middle of the island of Sri Lanka and has a wide variety of activities on offer that make it the perfect place to unwind if you have a few days break from cricket. One of my favourite spots to visit is the Temple of The Tooth, a Buddhist temple located in the Royal Palace.
Galle: The biggest surprise for me when I started visiting Sri Lanka was the quality of the beaches and the excellent surfing spots all down the coast. Just outside the gated city of Galle (home of the Galle International Stadium) are an abundance of small beach towns where you’ll find surfers from all around the world…
It is so hard to describe India. It’s like worlds colliding, from the richest to the poorest, all living side by side with huge beaming smiles. Your senses come alive, struggling to take it all in. This is a country like no other. You have to holiday here at least once in your lifetime. But be warned, it’s quite addictive!
Like the experience of traveling to India, playing cricket there is just as different. The playing conditions are usually hot and humid with dusty pitches that bring the spinners into the game.
The Kolkata Test 2001 was one of the most memorable I played in India. Not because of the result or personal achievement, given we ended up losing the match. It was the fact that 90,000 screaming Indian supporters each day created the most hectic Test match atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.
Delhi: The second most populated city in India has such a buzz to it, sometimes it’s hard to take it all in. Make sure you get out of Delhi – the breathtaking Taj Mahal is an hour away.
Mumbai: The terrorist attacks of 2008 have not deterred cricketers or tourists from travelling to Mumbai. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel overlooks the majestic Gateway of India. This legendary luxury hotel has hosted kings, dignitaries and your fair share of cricketers over its long and illustrious history.
Strategically located in Mumbai’s prime historical and commercial hub, the hotel is walking distance from Colaba Causeway, which is known for its tiny roadside shops. It’s a great spot to pick up a few souvenirs. The city’s parliament, stadium, offices and shopping districts are also nearby; as is a flourishing art and heritage precinct with must-visit museums, art galleries, churches and synagogues.
Historic Leopold’s Café, which is around the corner from the Taj Mahal Hotel, plays a role in the iconic book Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, in which a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict escapes from Pentridge Prison and flees to India. The book is a great insight into the 1980s in Mumbai.
I can’t get enough of this part of the world. The history blows your mind and only a stone throw away is all of Europe!
For any player, representing your Country at The Lords Cricket Ground (The Home of Cricket) in St Johns Wood is the highlight of a career. In 1993, on my first tour for Australia, not only did this become a reality in my 2nd Test match, but I scored 152! Without doubt my career highlight!
London: The home of cricket! It’s always a pleasure to visit London. Especially in Summer, when the city is abuzz. I’ve been visiting England for many years and have stayed at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington more times than I can remember. Located right next to Hyde Park, it has a fantastic location right on Kensington High Street, a great spot for shopping or grabbing a quick bite after the day’s activities.
Don’t forget a stroll Kings Road in Chelsea for some retail therapy and if you have time for a West End Show, my personal favourite is The Phantom of The Opera which has been showing for more than 30 years and still sells out!
Machester: Another great cricketing city. A new addition to the Manchester city centre, Australasia Restaurant and Bar is a must do, not only because it’s flying the flag for Australian fare. Modern Australian cuisine meets Pacific Rim flavours underpinned by European cooking traditions in a menu that blends Indonesian, Southeast Asian influences and showcases Australia’s strong ties with Japan.
A long 24+ hours travel time is an easy turn off, but don’t be discouraged so easily, because the West Indies is a magnificent destination. All the islands are relatively close and possess their own qualities and culture. Once you’ve settled into Caribbean time……everything is coooooool man!!!!
My favorite venue in this region is Kensington Oval in Barbados. The crowd sit very close to the square boundaries and support their own with extreme patriotism.
Barbados: Home of some of the WI cricketing greats, Frank Worrell, Sir Garry Sobers, Wes Hall, Malcolm Marshall, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, to name a few, and the venue of Australia’s 2007 World Cup win, Barbados is the jewel in the Caribbean Crown.
For a taste of the flavours of Barbados and their seafood you can’t go past Champers restaurant in Christchurch. The oceanfront setting provides the perfect backdrop. For an extra special evening, load the wallet and head to Cliff restaurant. Harbour Lights is a bar and nightclub by the ocean that has been the scene of many cricket celebrations (and next day headaches!).
St Lucia: Head out on the water! Charter a yacht and explore the islands yourself – all you need is a boat license and you’re off! Alternatively there are a number of yachts available for hire, with a captain and crew who’ll ensure you make it to each destination in time for the first ball. They’ll even dock at the local Marina on each island so your accommodation is sorted too!
St Lucia can be a distraction on a cricket tour given the relaxed holiday feel. The hotels are perfectly located on the beach so focus can be a problem at times. We would tour matches and One Day Internationals here.
Antigua: There are so many beautiful beaches and nice resorts in the Caribbean Islands, but Antigua is a must. You have to say you’ve walked down Sir Vivian Richards Street (my cricketing hero)! He is so highly revered in his country he also had a stadium named after him when built for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Our great sporting rivals always punch way above their weight. When it comes to where they live, New Zealand is a stunning country that takes no time at all to get to. It’s a must. Ps. don’t be afraid to bring up the underarm delivery, you might as well, if you don’t they will!
Auckland: If you’re after a decadent dinner, head straight to Clooney Restaurant. Famous for their attention to detail and service, this is definitely a place for a treat.
Queenstown: For those adrenalin lovers out there, Queenstown has everything you’re looking for, from buggy jumping and zip lining to caving and rafting. And that’s just in summer. The Kiwis go nuts about skiing the same way they go nuts about skiing. Queenstown is the home of winter sports. And a trip to the snow isn’t complete without a trip to Fergburger. This burger joint is a local institution, having served huge, juicy burgers since 2001 and is pretty much a rite of passage for anyone heading to Queenstown. Many claim they’d swim back to New Zealand for a bite of the burgery goodness. If golf is your thing you must stop off at Jacks Point, a beautiful course.
Marlborough/Wine Country: Marlborough is located on the north east of the South Island, a scenic four hour drive from Christchurch. The plethora of wineries make this a must do if you have time. Lord of the Rings fans will love tours that is a scenic hour drive.
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