Local cricketers stuck in Dubai
THE kids just wanted to play cricket.
Wanted to get to England and showcase their wares to the Poms.
But the matches started last weekend and Sammy-Jo Johnson and Ryan Howard are six days into an enforced stop-over in Dubai.
Johnson, 17, and Howard, 18, both of Lismore, were on their way to England for the up-coming county cricket season when Iceland’s volcano erupted grounding planes worldwide.
Johnson was on the ground at the time, waiting for her connecting flight, but the misery is more for Howard who was actually on board his connecting flight and half way to Heathrow when his pilot did a u-turn.
For these two Lismore kids, Dubai would become a temporary home.
County cricket for Cumbria (Johnson) and Harrows-St Mary’s (Howard) would have to wait.
But it hasn’t been all that bad.
Johnson and Howard are on Adam Gilchrist Cricket Development Scholarships overseen by Adam’s dad Stan.
And since they have been stranded, Gilchrist Sr has gone to amazing lengths to make sure the pair was safe and entertained.
Gilchrist contacted another Australian wicket-keeping legend, Rod Marsh, who is in Dubai, and had him take the kids on a tour of his new venture – the International Cricket Academy Dubai.
Howard was quite impressed.
“There is indoor everything there,” Howard said.
“It’s a massive place and it looks like it will be a great facility when it opens up.”
And the brushes with cricketing fame don’t stop there.
Dale Hadlee, brother of cricketing great Sir Richard, was also contacted by Gilchrist and took the time to take the kids on a tour of the city.
Howard, it could be said, is copping a fair dose of culture shock.
“It’s quiet scary over here because everything is so different,” he said.
“Getting in cars is strange, most don’t have seatbelts in the back and the speed limits are ridiculous for the amount of cars on the road.
The lad is also under the pump about his dress.
“We were in the gym and got spoken to about wearing singlets because the local ladies would be offended to see our shoulders,” he said.
“It’s 35 degrees over here so a singlet is the norm I would have thought.”