Thursday 13 April – We all met up at the Melbourne airport at 6am for the flight to Los Angeles. The flight was extremely comfortable on the new Qantas plane. Everyone managed to eat sleep and relax and we landed in LA about 6.15am on Thursday morning – arriving before we left Australia. Picked up our transport to drive to Palm Springs but not all the luggage could fit so we upgraded to the maximum size SUV.
The drive of approximately 130 miles (210 kms) took a full three hours and it was not until the day after did I read that leaving LA heading east is the most intimidating drive in the USA and while it had its moments of chaos it did not seem any worse than Sydney!
The next two days were spent in full relaxation, getting used to the temperature and adjusting the body clock. We took a trip to Mission Hills on Friday to check out our playing venue, the time it would take to drive in the morning and the best route. The lawns were being prepared (desert weather requires a lot of watering of the lawns and care of the grass) so we were unable to have a hit until the official practice which was due to start on Sunday 16th.
Sunday 16 April – we arrived at the lawns at 7.30am – the first team – and got onto the lawns smartly. The condition report from the players was – ‘very true and flat, hoops firm and narrowly set to Regs but easier than Atkin Quadways to run (they are a Rodini hoop).
Monday 17 April – a good days’ practice of required ball movement, as the previous day was more getting the swing grooved and ready.
Tuesday 18 April – Test 1 – Day 1 Australia v England Doubles
Robert Fletcher and Malcolm Fletcher v, David Maugham and James Hopgood.
This was pretty one sided, Malcolm had the early hit, but turned the innings over when he was hampered after Hoop 2. Robert only got one lift shot attempt which missed. The highlight was the composed debut match for England’s James Hopgood.
Simon Hockey and Greg Fletcher v. Stephen Mulliner and Samir Patel.
Perfect performance from Australia, they complimented each other well, with Simon’s shooting ability and Greg’s impressive break play from tricky starting positions.
Stephen Forster and Ian Dumergue v, James Death and Jamie Burch
Good match to watch, had everything, lots of good tactics, a fightback from Australia and some quality shooting. Stephen and Ian came back from 1 game down and 1 break down in the third game. This match was a good reflection of the Australian team – fighting, confident, enjoying each other’s company and ability – these qualities will be needed during the next few weeks to achieve success and reach our goals.