I have been watching the England cricket team play test matches abroad for ten years now. This includes 13 tours to 7 test playing nations. I suppose you could say that it’s my way of seeing the world with an ulterior motive of supporting my love for the game of cricket!

Having seen England lose two Ashes Series 5-0 in Australia, some would probably say that I need my head looking at, but to watch them win the 2010/2011 series 3-1 was worth the misery of the other two series.

The very first tour I went on was the 2006/2007 Ashes tour to Australia. I work as an Independent Financial Adviser and my spare time is very limited, so when I started looking around for a tour group my first inclination was to look at the Barmy Army. In those days, the tours were very different from today (to say the least) but with Thomson Sport having now been brought on board, the quality of the tours have now grown in stature.  

You may pay more with an organised tour than doing it yourself, but I am someone who likes the comfort of knowing what I’m getting with the organisation of the hotels, flights, itinerary and trips on your days off. I could spend the time sorting a tour out myself, but my basic philosophy is that instead of spending the time doing it myself, I could be out there earning the money to pay for someone else to sort it for me! That then puts me in a position of knowing exactly what I’m getting for my money and I’m in a totally relaxed mood, knowing that someone else is taking the strain of organising the trip. Everything is organised on a fully professional basis and if I wish to add anything extra onto the tour, it can be done by contacting Thomson Sport, who I have found very helpful.

Having a representative on tour is also important to me, as you never know when you may need someone’s help - for whatever reason - and the representatives are there 24/7. Transport to most test venues is included in the price, but the main attribute is tickets in the Barmy Army section of the ground. This is an education within itself. It’s just basically “mad”! Anyone can get up and sing and shout, and unlike most football matches where the language would be quite derogatory towards the opposing fans/players, the Barmy Army have a way with getting into the opposition’s players heads without the derogatory verbal chants you would see at football. This is a “must see”, whether you’re a cricket fan or not.  Just ask Mitchell Johnson about it!   

The camaraderie with the people on tour is second-to-none and it helps you to make friends very quickly with people, that in certain cases, you have never met before. The atmosphere within the Barmy Army section of the crowd is worth its weight in gold, especially if Billy Cooper’s got the trumpet playing and the singing is in full swing. It’s a wonderful experience and you get “hooked” very quickly once you’ve toured once.

Come along and try it. You wont be disappointed and you’ll be talking about the different tours you’ve been on for years!

Steve “the hat” Higton.