CLITHEROE Cobras enjoyed the experience of a lifetime on their tour of Dubai.
On day one, a jovial crowd of 29 Cobras assembled at Chatburn Road to set off to Manchester Airport and then onward to Dubai via Abu Dhabi - knowing they had a match six hours after landing against Repton School.
A 25-minute minibus journey brought the squad to the impressive Repton School Campus, where they were faced with an astroturf outfield and a wicket with more bounce than Perth in it’s pomp.
It didn’t bode well for the bleary-eyed Cobras.
A decent start from Matt Neilson and Liam Kellington kept things tight, but a series of fielding lapses allowed Repton to wrack up a challenging 140 in their 20 overs.
Cobras were never in the hunt despite a few lower order hits from Omar Hussain and Tom Stones and they finished well short.
Stones was named man of the match and given a Repton shirt to treasure.
The following day, some of the braver Cobras tourists headed for their first historic challenge, up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The lift took a mere 60 seconds to climb the 124 floors!
That was followed by an unforgettable visit to the record-breaking Sharjah International Stadium, to play Cottesmore.
The game took place in the centre of the main square where Pakistan had played two days earlier.
A solid batting performance, with a steady 54 from Sam Mulligan and 42 from Dom Stuart, helped the Cobras to post a stiff 193.
Cottesmore were never in the hunt, and a four-pronged demon spin attack of Hardcastle, Hussain and the two Stuart brothers helped to restrict them to 103.
Then it was off to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, and then the Sheikh Zayed Stadium for the England game, where it was £6 per ticket to sit on the grassy bank.
Day four was the first cricket free day, but the next day saw a game at the Sevens ground against the Young Talent Cricket Academy.
A slow track meant that runs were hard to come by, and, coupled with the regular loss of wickets, the Cobras limped to 108 off their 30 overs on another red hot day and huge ground with an electric outfield.
Skipper Omar top scoring with a dogged 36, and Joe Hardcastle gave him good support with a breezy 20.
In reply the home side got off to a bad start as Tobias Child Broadbent snared the only two batsmen to be dismissed.
There then followed a century partnership which gave YTCA victory with eight wickets and eight overs left.
There followed another rest day, before the packed schedule took in another match in Abu Dhabi.
The group travelled to the Emirates Palace Hotel, where they were welcomed by British School Abu Dhabi coach, Colin Wells, the former Sussex player.
The Cobras dived straight into their innings, and a solid, if not spectacular, performance resulted in a total of 102.
Captain Omar top-scored again with 35, with valuable contributions from Tom Stones and Gibson, who was defiant in defence.
In reply the home side got off to a flier with skipper Tom smashing a brisk 50 and retiring, before coming back later to see the British School to victory.
Then came the icing on the tour at Dubai Sports City as the boys were escorted into the stadium via the press room.
Having watched England warm-up, the group were then privileged to meet the team and get autographs signed and countless photos taken - with Omar Hussain pictured with James Anderson (s).
Day eigtht was the final day, and everyone checked out before heading to Dubai College for the final game before flying home.
There they were met by a concrete wicket, and the batting failed to click, managing a meagre 76, with a solid effort from Sam Mulligan, top-scoring with 13.
The home side smashed their way to the target with Dom Stuart taking the only wicket to fall.
They then went to the Dubai International Stadium to again catch the England game, before a coach to Abu Dhabi.
Cobras chairman Farouk Hussain said: “It was an amazing experience for all and will be remembered for the rest of everyone’s lives, with many friendships made and lots of stories to tell.”