Barely a week after England regained the Ashes from Australia at the Oval, few cricket fans will be thinking ahead yet to the start of next series between the two countries in November 2010, let alone whether they will travel there. Not Oli Broom, however, who leaves London next month on a 25,000km journey by bicycle to Brisbane to arrive in time for the First Test at the city’s famous ground, The Gabba.
Broom, a 29-year-old chartered surveyor, hopes to raise £100,000 for charity and teach the locals a thing or two about cricket on the way. The latter point may not go down too well on the Australian leg of his trip, however.
Broom, from Berkshire, says that the inspiration behind his trip was an accident that befell a friend of his who fractured a vertebra in 2005, leaving him paralysed from the neck down and in need of 24-hour care. Seeking “a change of direction” after leaving his job last month, Broom says "what happened to James made me wonder if I was making the most of every day."
Broom is seeking to raise funds through his trip for the British Neurological Research Trust, as well as for the cricket-focused charity, The Lord’s Taverners.
The planned route takes Broom across Europe to Istanbul, then through Syria to Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. After a sea crossing to India, Broom then aims to catch some Indian Premier League action, before heading to Australia via Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Along the journey, he will be looking to meet up with local cricketers in such unlikely places as Croatia, and encourage people to start learning the game in countries including Syria. With the sport's governing body, the ICC, now based in Dubai, it’s perhaps not such a madcap idea as it at first appears.
Broom acknowledges, however, that the trip is not without its dangers, saying that stone-throwing children in Ethiopia have been cited as a problem by other long-distance cyclists, and he may well sport a motorcycle helmet on this leg as protection. Mind you, if their throwing is reasonably accurate, there presumably remains the option of him getting off his bike and teaching them the finer points of fielding at cover point.
Broom’s quest has the support of England captain, Andrew Strauss. Both attended Radley College, Oxfordshire, and Strauss says, “I've known Oli since our school days and can vouch for his sanity. I wish Oli the very best of luck and look forward to seeing him on his bike in Brisbane in November 2010!"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.