The lovely place that is Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand appears to have an effect on English sportsmen. Barely has the storm abated after the visit of England’s rugby union players to the delightful haunt than the England cricket coach defended his players for behaviour of which they were not guilty.
What the rugby team indulged in during the last World Cup is already the stuff of touring legend. So far as anyone can tell, apart perhaps from an occasional glass or two of sauvignon blanc, all that the cricketers did in their spare time was play golf and in two or three cases spend time on adventure activities short of bungee jumping and certainly not involving dwarf throwing.
But their sojourn has gone down badly with some pundits who were not present in the town for the warm-up match but seem to think the players were shirking. Andy Flower, who puts up with no nonsense, felt moved to speak without being asked about it today.
He said: “There has been a little bit of criticism about a holiday camp the time we had in Queenstown. I think that’s incorrect because I encourage the guys to go out and experience the different cultures we are lucky enough to immerse ourselves in on tour and have these different experiences that are really exciting.”
Flower has a point. England have spent a great deal of time in sub-continental venues lately where it is difficult to go out not least because of the fear of being mobbed and the difficulties of getting around. But if the players could perhaps do more, no sooner do they go out in places like New Zealand than they are berated.
“We encourage guys to have outside interests and we don’t want them to sit in hotels spending repetitive hours on the internet or watching movies or slobbing around,” said Flower. “We want them to get out and be active and be interested in the world around them.” By raising the issue of course he was drawing attention to it. It may stop any further discussion about England making Queenstown their training base during the 2015 World Cup.