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November 2008
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England diary: KP meets a challenge head on

November 13th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , ,

We arrived in Rajkot and I gave the players the afternoon off to explore. Things have not gone according to plan but we’re going to screw our heads back on and move forwards.

Some of the boys went to the market to see if they could pick up any local handicrafts (DVDs, knock-off iPods, etc). Harmison said he didn’t want to go because it might be dangerous, or noisy, or even both, and also what if he needed to do toilet? But Flintoff said he was going and Harmison then said: “I love markets, they’re great.”

I myself stayed in the hotel because I had to practise looking statesmanlike in front of the mirror. One of my friends, a very well known and successful actor who I am not going to name because I don’t like to show off about celebrity (but – clue: he’s been in both The Bill AND Celebrity Scissorhands! The guy’s a serious legend) has been giving me some acting tips. It’s all about staring straight ahead and imagining everybody naked, he says. That can make you feel pretty queasy in press conferences, so I often just imagine myself naked, which makes me feel warm and determined.

So I told Flintoff and Harmison not to get up to any mischief and sent Sidebottom along with them. I try and pair up the sensible ones with the not so reliable lads in a sort of mentoring programme. Cook has done wonders with Belly, for instance. Belly now gets his own cereal in the morning and eats it quietly even if the little plastic toy has already been taken by someone else. We’re growing together as a group.

Anyway they hadn’t been gone for more than an hour when I get a phone call from the local police. It’s all gone off in the market and, after calming the chief inspector down with promises of a signed Girls Aloud CD and a full apology, I managed to piece together what had happened.

Seems that Flintoff and Harmison bolted from the hotel and poor Ryan couldn’t keep up as he doesn’t walk too good these days. By the time he found them, Flintoff had managed to get hold of drink and was leading the market traders and untouchables and what have you in a conga through the little cobbled streets. But it was all good spirited, according to Ryan, until this street entertainer came up with a monkey. Harmison got scared – he later told me that he’d had a traumatic childhood experience at Whipsnade – and basically freaked out. The monkey was only trying to be friendly by all accounts but Harmison bit it, hard, on the paw.

The mood turned ugly and they had to leg it. The monkey owner was furious, as was the monkey, and they were both demanding compensation. The lads managed to hole up in a bicycle repair shop and barricade themselves in and Ryan gave us a call. I got down there quick-smart and managed to just about calm the crowd down by hugging some of them and handing out cans of Red Bull.

Then I went inside the shop and had a word with the boys, who agreed that there’re lessons to be learned from this and we have got to stay focused. There’s no doubt there will be tough challenges ahead in India but I’ve never ducked a challenge in my life. That’s what has got me where I am today: hiding from a baying mob in a bicycle repair shop, cradling a sobbing Steve Harmison and telling him that monkey’s going to pay for what it done.

Alan Tyers hacked into KP’s online diary and caught a virus downloading it

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