Our Sports Writer Kumari Tilakawardane caught up with England cricket legend David Gower to hear all about his world of travel.


You recently hosted Spectate's cricket cruise to the Caribbean - how was that experience?

It was a lovely cruise. The ship was very comfortable and the onboard staff were brilliant. I do enjoy the smaller islands of the Caribbean, which have a more sort of retro feel. When you go to the bigger islands, it’s all very busy, and it seems a bit away from the old image of the Caribbean – which is little islands, with nice beaches and a few palm trees and a couple of people. A particularly memorable moment was when one of the guests held a David Gower quiz, which was quite interesting – the big question was whether I would know the answers to my own life!


In your line of work, you’ve been able to travel all over the world – if you had to pick just one of the cricketing destinations you’ve visited, which would be your favourite?

I hate trying to pick one, I love them all. For me, Australia normally offers some of the best times – great cities, great food, great climate, great wine, and I’ve built up a lot of friendships out there over the years. Then, for scenery and travelling around, New Zealand is great. I haven’t been to Sri Lanka since the country’s inaugural Test Match in 1982, and I’m desperate to get back there because everyone who’s been loves it. For a different culture, India is fabulous… I love them all, basically, but you made me pick one!


Outside of cricket, where are your favourite places for holidays?

My favourite holiday is a safari. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have many visits to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana. I haven’t been to Namibia, yet. I’ve done tiger safaris in India. Animals are a passion, and conservation is one of my things – that stems from being brought up in East Africa when I was a kid.


What’s on your travel bucket list?

There’s plenty of space in Africa that I haven’t yet seen. The irony is that with all this travel around the cricketing world, which has been fabulous and for which I’m eternally grateful, I haven’t been able to do much closer to home. For instance, there are a dozen major European cities I haven’t seen – Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Bucharest, Prague, St Petersburg and Vienna, to name just a few. I’d love to do a proper European tour; there’s a whole stack of places closer to home which I’d love to get to before it’s too late.

What do you never travel without?

A defibrillator! No… that’s not true, I promise. I’m afraid that in common with 99% of people nowadays, my phone has to come. But actually, if it’s a safari, a proper camera is the most important thing.


What things do you look for in a holiday?

A bit of everything. It’s one of those rare occasions you actually have time to read a proper book. The great thing about being on safari, or in the middle of nowhere, is that you’re able just to switch off from all those things that make you grumpy every other day of the year. You’re removed from the daily grind, you’re removed from the world at large, from all the news that’s assaulting you from all sides. So that’s why being able to switch off on holiday is rather important.


What’s the best thing about travel?

Finding something fresh – new places, new people, new experiences. You’ll never see the whole thing, of course, but there are so many weird and wonderful things out there – things to do, people to meet, places to be – it’s all about adding to one’s life experience.


What’s on your playlist?

That depends entirely on my mood! I still listen to quite a bit of Genesis, Queen, Cat Stevens, and I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan. We went to Roger Waters at Hyde Park last summer which was brilliant.


And reading list?

Over the years I’ve read a lot of Terry Pratchett. His sense of humour tallies entirely with mine. His writing offers something to amuse, and something to stretch the brain a little bit. I love language, so people who write with quirky turns of phrase appeal to me. I’m halfway through Robert Peston’s WTF, which is very different – I’d actually rather we were in an imaginary world at the moment! Maybe his next book will be Terry Pratchett-like…


If you could invite any three people for dinner, who would they be?

The answer to this is always different each time I get asked! Terry Pratchett, of course, because I would have loved to have met him. I’d quite like to meet Cate Blanchett, too. And David Attenborough – I’m sure he’s on everyone’s list, he has to do three a night!


What do you miss most when travelling?

Home is important as a base, and obviously, if I’m travelling without family then one has to sort of keep in touch as best as one can. I do miss home, I do miss family, but I take the view that when one is away, there’s always something to do and people to be with and that’s part of the fun of it. Enjoy it!


Which destination has surprised you most on your travels?

A good question. I’m normally pretty prepared for where I’m going. If I have ever been surprised, it was being pleasantly surprised by Pakistan, purely because of its reputation. When we were there we were very well looked after, pretty comfortable, and it was fascinating just to see what’s going on and getting out and about a bit.


Read our interview with David Gower on cricket here.

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