Jo Overty, Barmy Army

I have never donned fancy dress in my life. For me, singing is something to do secretly in the shower. And, gasp, I don't like beer.

It was therefore with a degree of trepidation that I found myself in departures at Heathrow on 30th December 2009, ready to board a plane to South Africa with a uniformed battalion of the Barmy Army, all in good voice and cheer.

Sitting in 34 degree heat, in superb seats, with a picture perfect view of Cape Town's Table Mountain, watching England gain a nail-biting 'winning draw' after five days against some of the most stylish players in the history of the game was something I'll never forget.

And so began the recruitment process for this now-loyal Barmy Army foot soldier.

Jo Overty, Barmy Army

The first thing to note about travelling with the official England supporters is that they are anything other than barmy when it comes to their organisation of trips to interesting and sometimes challenging parts of the planet.

From booking to boarding the plane; from landing at the airport frazzled after a long flight to checking in at the (always well chosen) hotel; and from the morning drop-off, full of expectation and chatter about how the day might go, to the early evening pick-up, more weary, at matches, those leading the tours take their responsibilities seriously. Everything runs like clockwork due to their diligence.

In beguiling Galle, in Sri Lanka, the lunchtime on-site catering limited and with the heat sapping us, our tour leaders effected a pragmatic solution: a row of tuk-tuks to whizz us up into the old town and an air conditioned, Colonial-style hotel for iced tea, a curried snack and back in time for the resumption of play, not a ball missed. Even when, due to British Airways' technical issues we were held up in Barbados for 14 hours - how dreadful, I hear you say - we were treated royally. Nothing was left to chance. If Carlsberg did delays...

Then there is the fact the Barmy Army has such great links with the England team and set up. It comprises - and as a grammar pedant it pains me to pen this - 'the loyalest cricket supporters the world has ever had'. That loyalty, since the dark days of the mid-nineties, counts for a lot in terms of players, ex players and commentators popping in to social events, donating raffle prizes etc.

As captains continually testify, the support of the Barmy Army really lifts the touring team when it needs it.

Jo Overty, Barmy Army

That brings me to another heartwarming side of touring with the Barmy Army. The fact that wherever it travels, and through its well known social side, it raises substantial sums for local charities.

If you are a cricket fan, watching the game abroad is a wonderful opportunity to explore a country you might not otherwise visit and spend time watching the game you love with some like-minded people.

The Barmy Army has long-standing members who converge from all over the world to watch the England boys do battle. They share a common bond, an ingrained passion for, and knowledge of, cricket coupled with the famous Barmy Army sense of humour. And they make newcomers like me feel very welcome.

I have made some lifelong friends and contacts through my touring with the Barmy Army and I can't wait for our next overseas trip - and, yes, standing up in a daft hat, shandy in hand, and singing my heart out to Jerusalem.