While temperatures in the Garden of England plummet below zero, Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens is one of a handful of county players acclimatising to life in steamy, downtown Dhaka.
The 35-year-old arrived in Bangladesh on January 31 ahead of his debut for the Dhaka Gladiators in next week’s inaugural BPL T20 extravaganza.
The players will enjoy an opening ceremony on February 9, but the action for Stevens and his team-mates begins in earnest with the Gladiators’ opening game in Mirpur on February 11.
Though his flight to Bangladesh, which included a stop-over in Delhi, went well, Stevens has quickly become accustomed to the gridlocked traffic that ensnares the streets of the Bangladesh capital.
He said: “I’ve had a couple of practice sessions already, the facilities and getting enough bowlers to bowl at you isn’t a problem, that’s all fine, but getting to and from the hotel is a nightmare.
“Imagine the M25 on a Friday night – we’ve all been there – but this is a hundred times worse. Bumper to bumper. It takes about an hour and thirty minutes to travel the 10 kilometres from the hotel, which is not enjoyable. I’ve been here a few days now and have spent at least fifty per cent of my time in the car!”
Thankfully for Stevens, he soon bumped into a familiar face and has met up for dinner with Somerset and former Kent swing bowler Peter Trego, who is also playing in Dhaka.
“He has been over here for just over six weeks playing in the local 50-over competition. He’s in good form, but I have to say the boy is wasting away. He’s already lost about 8kgs through playing in this climate.
“I’m staying at the Ruposhi Bangla hotel, which is is the old Sheraton. It’s very nice and the rest of our side will be staying here once they arrive over the next couple of days. I’ve been looked after very well so far and the players from the other franchises are spread throughout the other Dhaka hotels.
“The first practice session was a bit of an eye opener, having spent the last three months hitting balls on quick pitches indoors, but fingers crossed that I’ll soon get used to the slower surfaces here. Generally the facilities are very good at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Dhaka.”
Stevens, a $US25,000 purchase in last month’s auction, is now looking forward to his side’s round robin matches and hoping for progression through to the knock-out stages.
He added: “All the franchises have good-looking sides, but with T20 it’s all about who performs best on the day and that’s why the format has been a hit all over the world.
“There are so many match-winners and I’m hoping it will prove to be a fantastic tournament. I’m really excited to be a part of it.
“I’ve asked for my usual No3 shirt, in the hope that they’ll bat me there, and I’m told our kit colours are orange and yellow, so at least you won’t miss us!”
Meanwhile, Stevens’s Kent team-mate Matthew Coles has been called up to replace Surrey seamer Stuart Meaker on the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka. Meaker has been sent home suffering with a suspected stress fracture in his lower back.