In today's hectic International itinerary it is very rare to come across a break in the ever-demanding fixture schedule. However, England, after The Ashes ended in early January, found themselves without Test match cricket until the 1st Test against Sri Lanka begins on the 12th June.
For those who continually follow the England Test match side around the globe, nicknamed the Barmy Army, this left a gap which must have felt like an eternity. Knowing there was such an extensive break in Test cricket some of them felt the need to fill this downtime with a meaningful tour of their own.
So where did they choose? Yes, you guessed it, the cricketing hot-bed of Chile and Argentina.
When England normally play Test cricket away from home the Barmy Army themselves play matches against the host team's supporters. This time they decided to do something similar and take the game to a part of the World that they wouldn't normally tour to take on some of their local sides.
Chief organiser Craig Norwood and his friends used a contact to organise four fixtures against the Affiliate Chile National side and another four in Argentina. The Barmy Union cricket team, as they were called, set off to South America with a touring side of 30, of whom 14 were players. Perhaps this was weighted slightly more favourably towards the non-players but i suppose every team has a large support staff these days!
Although the side could not muster a victory during their tour, Chile proved very strong in all four games, and although the games in Argentina were much closer, the group had a fantastic time playing in some beautiful surroundings. Not least playing cricket in the shadow of The Andes.
Norwood and his Barmy Union cricket team have not been put off by their lack of victories and are looking at organising another tour in the future when the International calendar permits. They have received offers from all over the World, not least countries such as USA, Russia and Croatia.
The Barmy Army have a come a long way since being nicknamed by the Australian media
during a tour down under in 1994-95. The Aussies could not understand why so many England supporters would travel so far to support a side that was always going to lose the series and therefore labelled them Barmy. Now the Barmy Army organise tours themselves, help with charity work and generally promote fun viewing of cricket whilst following England. They are turning into an institution in their own right.
The Barmy Army have certainly added to the experience of Test match cricket and they are now spreading the word in countries that are not necessarily associated with the game. This can only be a good thing for the sport. Right now though it is back to supporting their beloved England in what could prove to be a crucial summer.
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