Shrewsbury School

Ill-Fated 2020 Dubai Annual Cricket Match and Supper

Tuesday 18 August 2020

 It was scheduled to be the mother of all cricket games – Old Salopians v the Rest of the World in Dubai on an ill-fated Friday 13th March. What could possibly go wrong?

It was during the 2019 Dubai Salopian get together, whilst conversing with fellow Old Salopian Charlie Barlow that he suggested how good it would be if the following year we could arrange a cricket match to be followed by prize giving and the usual supper. The seed was planted and the challenge set.

In early December 2019, Martin Cropper was able confirm the date for the event as he would be visiting Dubai for the annual Public Schools Exhibition, which The School usually attended in the previous 7 years. So, with a date set for Friday the 13th of March I set about the challenge of putting together 2 cricket teams – one of pure Salopian selection and one Rest of the World XI.

With Jebil Ali Cricket Ground booked for a 20/20 game, a feeler email to the Middle East Salopian community was sent out early – providing plenty of notice! At one point a pure Old Salopian team was confirmed and I had managed to scrape together a Rest of the World XI, with even a couple of subs.

Fellow Old Salopian Anthony ‘The fireworks Man’ Samuel helped me confirm the venue for the evening prize-giving and supper, which was located on the world-famous Palm Jumeirah boasting iconic views and a well-renowned menu. The guest list was up to 40+, including old boys, staff, current/prospective parents, family and friends of the school. An excellent example in early preparation and we were all set. What could go wrong?!

7/2/2020 – Martin informed me that he would no longer be travelling to Dubai in March for the exhibition due to the ever-growing worldwide corona virus situation (and quite rightly so).

26/2/2020 – The Chinese National football team, who had come over to Dubai for a week of winter training were refusing to travel back due to the corona virus situation and needed our cricket pitch for their daily training. I did put up a fight with the owners but alas, it was an already a lost battle considering the Chinese were spending circa $275,000 a week at the hotel and I’d only put a deposit down of £100 (they did eventually manage to make it back if anyone is wondering).

In the following weeks and as the pandemic worsened, public group sporting events were all shut down and cancelled in the UAE.

By the time Friday the 13th of March rolled around lock-down was just around the corner, but not quite! The troops rallied and a team of 12 made it onto the field for the evening supper. The night consisted of the usual Salopian conversation we all know and love with plenty of laughter and temporary subsided thoughts on what was going on elsewhere.

We are all aware of what has happened around the globe since, with our health becoming the main consideration and priority. To all Salopians and their families around the global, I hope you are keeping well, safe and positive about the future. Once normal travel resumes and if you happen to find yourself in Dubai on a visit or a work placement, please do not hesitate to get in touch –

 Floreat Salopia!

 Rupert James Connor (S. 92 – 97)

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