Chittagong chaos and CMJ airlines
It's been another eventful week and in my latest World Cup diary we experience a mixture of excitement and chaos in Chittagong, before a journey to Chennai involving an unscheduled stop-over in Kolkata.
Thursday 9 March
I join Jonathan Agnew at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium for the usual pre-match interviews with the captains ahead of the Bangladesh v England on Friday. Shakib Al Hasan manages to look fairly calm even though he knows the hopes of millions of cricket-mad Bangladesh fans are resting on his shoulders.
Then it is our chance to quiz England captain Andrew Strauss. What all the journalists want to know is who is going to open the batting - Matt Prior, Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell - following the loss of Kevin Pietersen and who is going to replace the injured Stuart Broad, but we all know Strauss is not going to reveal the answer to either question.
Aggers decides not to be too Jeremy Paxman-like and says to Strauss: "You're not going to tell me who's opening or coming in for Broad ... but I might as well hear you say it."
Friday 10 March
While leaving the hotel to go to the ground I get into a lift with Matt Prior. I casually ask him if he is 'going up to the top floor' or 'staying around the middle'. He gives me a wry smile, but reveals nothing about England's batting order.
Later, Prior does open the batting, but is soon probably wishing he hadn't bothered when he is dismissed in a bizarre stumping.
The game has been underway for around 45 minutes when I notice the commentary box next to us is empty. A few moments later the crew from Bangladesh radio arrive in a panic which only gets worse when they discover their box is locked.
England's World Cup hopes take a knock in Chittagong - photo: Getty.
It's a really busy day for me because as well as producing Test Match Special and looking after the technical side of the programme, I am also doing the updates on 5 live as regular reporter Alison Mitchell is commentating.
This role is made all the more difficult as the noise at the ground makes it almost impossible to hear when the 5 live presenter is linking to me and a couple of times I just launch into a report when I think I hear a gap.
It's also rather tricky because I can't actually see any scoreboards from my position - so there is more than a little guess work going on.
I am also keeping a close eye on events in Mohali where Ireland have a crucial match against the West Indies, to make sure we keep TMS listeners up to date with that game. Ireland's match is pretty exciting as they make a more than decent attempt at a large victory target, but our game turns out to be yet another thriller.
I don't know if my nerves can take much more of watching England at this World Cup as the match swings one way and then the other. While Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan are together it looks like England will get a big score, but they lose late wickets.
Bangladesh make a great start chasing the target of 226 but after losing five quick wickets, the atmosphere among home supporters becomes unbelievably tense as Shafiul Islam and Mahmudullah share what turns out to be a match-winning partnership.
There are remarkable scenes when Mahmudullah hits Tim Bresnan for the winning runs. On the field, bats are thrown into the air and all the Bangladesh squad run on to congratulate their team-mates.
In the media centre, all we can hear is loud, continual screaming. I try to find out what is going on and discover the noise comes from a group of security guards and volunteers who have left their posts and are hugging each other and shouting at the tops of their voices in celebration.
Meanwhile, on the field Aggers notices the groundstaff have all joined hands and are running across the field in spontaneous celebration. It is amazing to see such an outpouring of emotion and we get a clear indication, as if we were in any doubt, of what cricket means to the people here.
Sadly, the day is soured by what happens to use later that evening. Firstly, as we are about to pack away all the equipment one of our team notices their bag has been tampered with and some items stolen, including credit cards and mobile phones.
A frantic search is made around the commentary box before we then go through the long process of reporting the theft to police officers at the ground. After packing away our equipment, the next task is to find the bus to take us back to our hotel.
Bangladesh fans celebrate their country's first World Cup win over England - photo: Reuters.
For some reason, our driver has not been allowed to meet us by the media centre so we have to drag our equipment around the ground towards a drop-off point. Even though the match finished over two hours ago, there is an enormous crowd outside the ground and we have no choice but to go through part of it to reach our bus.
At first it all appears fairly good natured as the Bangladesh fans are clearly overjoyed by their team's success, but what we don't realise is that they have been waiting patiently for the two sides to go past and are desperate to release their excitement somehow.
Unfortunately for the five members of the TMS team, we are completely surrounded within seconds and the mood starts to turn rather ugly.
A few months ago, I attended a training course in Gravesend on "Public Order Safety" where we literally took part in a riot with petrol bombs flying about and angry crowds massing around us. I remember thinking 'What on earth am I doing here when I work in such a gentle sport like cricket?'.
Suddenly, the skills I learnt on that course are needed as we all desperately try to stick together and find some safe ground, but this is harder said than done as we become further engulfed - and like being in a rolling maul during a rugby match we seem to lose control of our movements.
In the melee, various attempts are made to take items from us, with another mobile phone being stolen. But even worse, the two female members of our group are subjected to some very inappropriate behaviour by some members of the crowd.
As we desperately try to find safety, a group of armed officers begin a charge and hit random members of the crowd with sticks. It is one thing to see this from a distance as we had at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore a couple of weeks ago, but it is quite another to see it close-up.
The situation becomes frankly terrifying as we are forced to hold our bags in front of us for protection and scream out so we do not get hit. As the crowd disperses we manage to find a relatively safe place in the middle of the road and beg some army officers to stay with us. To be fair, they are extremely helpful and even manage to call our driver to explain exactly how to come and rescue us.
I have never been so pleased to get into a minibus, but the journey back to our hotel is not straightforward because traffic is at a standstill - and because the Bangladesh team are also staying at the same hotel there is another enormous crowd swarming around it.
We do not want to be exposed to this crowd again and we have to negotiate strongly with the police guarding the hotel to let us through. It is after 2.00am when we eventually get to our rooms, but it is impossible to sleep with cries of "Bangladesh, Bangladesh" outside for several hours.
I go down to reception and discover that the England team had been stuck in their dressing room at the ground until 2.30 and see Paul Collingwood arrive looking exhausted.
Saturday 11 March
The TMS team are clearly still shaken after the events of last night and it is a fairly quiet bus trip from our hotel to Chittagong airport ready for a mid-morning flight.
Because we will be travelling on a small plane to Kolkata to make a connection to Chennai, we arrive early at the airport to begin negotiations to get all our luggage on board. I have to admit morale is not high when the staff inform us that our plane is delayed "indefinitely" because of a technical problem.
Of course, it is not just the Test Match Special team who are frustrated. Also gathered at the airport are the crew putting together the BBC TV highlights, including presenter Rishi Persad, and the ESPN team with the likes of Sir Ian Botham and Michael Atherton.
With nothing much going on, an impromptu game of cricket begins by the check-in desks involving airport staff and passengers, with luggage piled up as stumps. I watch alongside Botham who is clearly unimpressed by the delay and says to me: "I'm not sure much is going to happen to sort this mess out - the bloke who's in charge is currently keeping wicket."
The fun is ended by a burly security guard who comes over and confiscates the cricket bat that is being used, which he tells us is potentially a "dangerous weapon". I go up to him and say: "Why don't you let me have a go? I'm English - after last night's match it's clear that in our hands a bat causes no danger at all."
There then follows a rumpus because the rumour spreads that there may be some seats available on the England team plane which is leaving shortly.
The next hour is fairly choatic as firstly we are told none of us are allowed on the plane as it is for players only. Then we are told that we will be allowed on the plane, but cannot take any luggage because it is full with team kit.
Botham told me earlier that he had heard that out of all the 14 teams at the World Cup, England were travelling with the most baggage. "At least we are top of one table at this World Cup," he says.
Then we are told that only some of us will be on the plane and who gets a seat depends on who has to get to Kolkata in time to cover a match. Finally, after starting to check our luggage in, we are informed that the plane is now full - with only the TMS team and a handful of journalists missing out!
We resign ourselves to having to wait for our original plane, which we are told is scheduled to leave five hours later, but next minute the news comes through that this plane has been cancelled and the only way to get to Kolkata is via Dhaka. At this point we abandon any hope of reaching our intended destination today and start making plans to complete the journey on Sunday.
When we finally get on a plane, I note that the name of the company sounds a little like CMJ, our gloriously shambolic Christopher Martin Jenkins. "It might as well be called CMJ airlines," I say "the plane is late and its not going to the place it's meant to be."
At Dhaka airport we rush off the plane as we have only a short time to get our connection to Kolkata and we have to clear international customs. There then follows a hilarious scene as each one of us, having gone through passport control, is ushered into a small room for an 'interview' but it turns out this is only a formality and we just make our Kolkata plane.
We reach our hotel at 9.00pm, having been travelling for 12 hours - less than one hour of which was actually spent in the air - and we are still nowhere near our final destination.
Sunday 12 March
I don't get a lot of sleep as my room is near those of the Ireland team, who are also staying at the hotel ahead of their match here on Tuesday. It is not the players who keep me awake, rather the phalanx of soldiers positioned in the corridor and spend most of the evening in loud conversation.
One of the positive sides of our detour is that I get to have a little look at Kolkata on the way to the airport - a city which I have never been to before and was really sad to miss out on when England's game against India was moved away from here.
I spot the outside of the imposing Eden Gardens ground and we also go past the majestic Victoria memorial and the famous Howrah Bridge spanning the Hooghly river.
We get too close to one of the traditional Kolkata yellow taxis, but neither our driver or the taxi man seems overly concerned by a small bump. Once at Kolkata airport we are just about to board our plane when a fire alarm sounds and we hear rumours that we will be evacuated.
Thankfully, this is a false alarm and we make our flight finally bound for Chennai ready to cover England's crucial match against the West Indies.
When we arrive, 36 hours after leaving Chitagong, Aggers works out that if we had got in an auto rickshaw, or "tuk tuk" as they are known, it would have taken the same amount of time to get here.
As I am about to go to bed, I get a text from Tim Peach, our producer in Nagpur, who has also had his logistical issues on this trip. You may remember I mentioned he had a bag go missing on the way from Dhaka to Colombo - well, he tells me the bag has been found and has been sent to Dhaka - where he left a week ago.
Monday 13 March
I meet a couple of England fans who are over here supporting the team. They tell me they understand there were 17 supporters in Chittagong for the match on Friday "but a few less by the end" they tell me. The couple are huge Gloucestershire fans and they tell me they love visiting the subcontinent to watch cricket.
They have a great story about a young Bangladesh fan, who apparently befriended a member of the Barmy Army called George when England toured here a year ago.
This fan was spotted outside the stadium at Chittagong before Friday's match with a banner around his neck, saying "Hello Barmy Army George - can I have a ticket for the game?" Sadly George had not made the trip, but some England supporters managed to get him inside.
They also told me about the strict behaviour of some ICC officials at some of the grounds where they had been watching England. Apparently they had been told to remove banners and flags because they were touching the side of an advertising board and one of their posters which mentioned the name of a small local energy company was confiscated because of the threat of "ambush marketing".
I fully understand the ICC have to protect their lucrative commercial deals, but you can't help but wonder whether spectators who spend a fortune to travel around the world to see these matches are given the respect they deserve.
Tuesday 14 March
During the afternoon I receive a letter under my door at the hotel marked 'On Her Majesty's Service'. Excitedly, I open the envelope wondering if my James Bond-like talents are finally going to be put to good use, but it turns out I have just been invited to the house of the Southern Indian Deputy High commissioner for a reception to celebrate the Queen's birthday.
While I work out if I have anything to wear for this event I get another text from Tim Peach who is now in Mumbai. "Good news, my bag has arrived - In Colombo. I hope it is collecting air miles."