Just what I need ... candlelit dinners with Iron Man Bumble, Atherton planning to kill me and smug texts from Tottenham fans


Last updated at 07:55 29 February 2008

A week off between the one-dayers and the Tests has given me the opportunity to travel this beautiful country.

As a player all I saw of New Zealand was cricket grounds, hotels and airports but as a member of the media time between games has meant I can really sample what the country has to offer.

Unfortunately I have done this with David Lloyd. The commentary team have spread far and wide across the country but I have drawn the short straw with the eccentric Lloyd sticking to me like Velcro.

First part of the week was spent in the beautiful coastal resort of Nelson at the top of the South Island.

The hotel was full of honeymoon couples and Hussain and Lloyd stuck out like sore thumbs. Romantic candle lit dinners with Lloyd discussing his last 60 years as an umpire, coach, player, commentator etc have left me slightly brain dead.

So I decided to escape to the Abel Tasmin National Park, which is about an hour drive out of Nelson. Mike Atherton had advised me to hire a kayak and go out to sea.

I'm not exactly sure what his motives were for this but all the hire companies just looked at me and laughed. For some reason they felt it was not safe for a bloke who had never been out in a kayak before in his life to go out to sea on his own.

Not many were that keen to go out with me either so I just decided to walk around the park for five hours. It was much safer and the scenery quite stunning!

The Hussain/Lloyd honeymoon then moved to the North Island and to a hotel on the edge of Lake Taupo.

Lloyd is now thinking of entering the New Zealand triathlon championship, which is staged here on Saturday.

He has become a fitness freak over the last few weeks with a daily jog and weights session usually followed by two bottles of Chardonnay of an evening.

So he now thinks that a 3.8Km swim followed by an 180Km bike ride finished off with a marathon run is well within his grasp. I am pushing him to do it because it would mean at least 24 hours away from him.

Away from the holiday plenty of sports news this week. I watched Arsenal and in particular Gael Clichy throw away two points against Birmingham on Saturday on TV and then was woken up on Monday morning with a text from Newman [Sportsmail's cricket correspondent] informing me that his beloved Spurs had won the cup final.

Jesse ryder

Wasted talent? Jessie Ryder

I responded with a "talk to someone who cares" text back. Newman had stayed up till 4 am to watch the game in Christchurch, he really does need to get out more!

Also news broke that Jessie Ryder had got drunk and injured himself after the one–dayer in Christchurch. He has become a bit of a cult hero out here and you feel he is trying to live up to his reputation as a wild child.

I just hope he doesn't wake up one day and realize what a fantastic opportunity he threw away.

Being a professional sportsman is about making sacrifices and he needs to surround himself not with his so-called mates but with people who will remind him of that.

Also this week more fall out from the ICL and IPL with various boards getting tough on players from the rebel league and saying they will need a NOC (No objection certificate) to play domestic cricket in England.

This might mean that players such as Mushtaq Ahmed and Rana–Naved and Shane Bond will not be able to play county cricket next season.

This combined with the fact that counties are already going to miss a lot of good overseas players that have signed up to the IPL will leave some of the counties short of star names.

They could go two ways. Either fill the gaps created with even more Kolpak and EU passport players or fill it with young English talent.

I do hope for the sake of our game it is the latter road that they take.

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It might well be a couple off difficult years ahead for county cricket because certain English non-contracted players such as Dimitri Mascarenhas might also be tempted away by the dollar in India.

Players might well want to be paid on a pro-rata basis so they can be away during April and May whereas counties will want them there all summer. I am surprised that the ICC has let such a can of worms open up in front of their eyes.

Across the Tasmin the Commonwealth Bank series is hotting up nicely off the field.

It should be an interesting final this weekend after Matt Hayden called Harbajan Singh "an obnoxious little weed" on Wednesday.

Hayden is a fantastic player but he continues to disappoint as a person. Sure, play hard on the field but the game of cricket calls for a bit more respect for each other away from the heat of battle.

The series has tarnished the game enough and the last thing it needs is Hayden reopening old wounds.

I suppose it will make for a spicy encounter on Sunday. Also, news that Brad Hogg will retire from international cricket after the finals means another Australian departs and even though they have Stuart MacGill in reserve I still believe England have a great opportunity next summer in the Ashes if they can finally play to their full potential and string a few victories together starting next week in Hamilton.

Anyway enough of all that, I have got to go now because "Iron Man" Lloyd wants to go for a romantic walk around the lake with me to view the course for Saturday. I am so tempted just to push him in it and bring an end to this nightmare!

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