Antigua - A Cricketer's Paradise

by Lucinda Tasker - Date: 2010-10-10 - Word Count: 790 Share This!

My favorite island in the West Indies is Antigua, with the possible exception of Barbados.

Some years ago I took the family to Antigua for a holiday and then surprisingly discovered that England were playing against Antigua in a cricket Test Match during our stay. Well that is what I told the wife, but of course I had known about the cricket match and booked to coincide. Given my enthusiasm for the game, my wife gave me that look scathing look that she reserves for me at times like this. But if she is going to be a cricket widow for the 5 days it takes for a Test Match to run its course, what better place to be than Antigua, reputed to have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year!

The swanky west coast is the favored destination for the rich with any number of luxury resorts and luxury yachts in Dickenson Bay, where we rented a house for a week with some friends. A stone's throw from the very safe beach, the sea was of course warm and like a mill-pond for the whole time we were there, so very safe for our young child.

The cricket ground where the Test Match was being contested was in St Johns, the capital of Antigua. The Recreation Ground as it was known is a very pretty ground and the match that I had arranged to watch was to become famous as a very old Test Match cricket record that had stood for over 40 years was to be broken.

The highest score ever recorded by a batsman was 365, a record set so long ago that I can't remember who set it, but in 1994 Brian Lara, the legendary West Indies batsman and later captain passed that score and made 376 before being dismissed.

I captured the moment with my video camera, but sadly at the big moment when he broke the record, everybody in front of me stood up and cheered, so my footage consist of a lot of the backs of local West Indian supporter!

Earlier in the match I had spotted English cricket legend Tom Graveney in the crowd, so I asked him if I could have a picture of him with my son who was months old at the time. Tom kindly agreed but whilst sitting on Toms lap, the nappy he was wearing began to leak and poor Toms trousers were dampened! So I have the doubtful claim that my son once urinated on an English cricketing hero!

After a week at Dickensons Bay we booked a week at English Harbour, in a hotel which I think was later decimated by a hurricane. It was in a fantastic location overlooking Nelson's Dockyard, which was reachable from our hotel by use of the hotels tender, which with its driver was at the service of hotel guests.

Nelson's Dockyard is, as its name suggests, a port where Nelson based himself to repair and refit his ships hundreds of years ago and is well worth a visit as the while town is steeped in naval history.

For me one of the great sights was during my visit to the Great Bird Island ( ) where there were the diving frigate birds, large pelican like creatures who would circle around above the ocean until spotting a fish and then streak down in a dive straight into the water and emerging with a fish firmly tucked in its mouth.

Just off the coast is the island of Barbuda. It is just visible on the horizon on a clear day and so a decision was made to charter a yacht and driver to take us there for the day. We were to be accompanied by Robin Smith an England cricketer and his wife, plus our friends Nigel and Lesley Rowley, with whom we were holidaying. However after boarding the yacht, I was concerned that there was quite a swell, and with my wife pregnant and looking worried, I took the decision to for us to get off and go and find a bar.

We had a nice lunch at the Hawksbay resort and generally enjoyed a very pleasant and relaxed day, before going back to the beach from where the others has departed. At around 3pm they arrived back looking dreadful. It turned out that the driver did not know his way to Barbuda, could not see where he was going due to the heavy swell and drove around for 4 hours in heavier and heavier seas before admitting he was lost. Having at last spotted an island and working out that it was Martinique, they were able to island hop back to Antigua, but six hours on a speedboat in choppy seas had taken its toll on the unhappy sailors.

Chris France is an avid English cricket supporter and in his spare time writes destination articles for bluewater,a broker for yacht charter and yachts for sale. He also advises on currency exchange from his home in the Cotes d'Azur and writes a blog Valbonne News.n
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