Watching Suresh Raina lean into a drive and just languidly caressing the ball to the boundary is still a sight for the sore eyes. The vista of him running to hug Yuvraj Singh after the latter hit the winning run to knock Australia out of the 2011 World Cup is a memory that keeps playing on loop in an Indian cricket fan’s mind. Having won the biggest titles that the world of cricket has to offer, the southpaw is now enjoying some time with his family in the Netherlands.
But when OT contacted Raina for an interview to talk about Manchester he was more than happy. “Maza aayega, chalo shuru karo,” Raina said in his typical cheeky voice from Amsterdam.
What To See
Like most prominent English cities, Manchester too is divided between Manchester City (blue) and Manchester United (red). The blue part of the Manchester is all about the fighting spirit while the red is about legacy. “For me Manchester is all about United. During one of tours to England, Mahi (MS Dhoni) and I went to the Old Trafford and we were awe struck. We took a tour of the stadium and were pleasantly surprised. Right from the locker room to the training facilities, the fan park, and even the memorabilia store at the Theatre of Dreams was amazing. The then Red Devils president gave both of us personalised jerseys,” Raina recalled. (Read more about football in Manchester here)
“Apart from Old Trafford, I would recommend the fans to visit the John Rylands Library and Manchester Cathedral just to admire the Gothic architecture. If the fans would want to know more about the culture and the history of Manchester then I would suggest the fans to drop by the Manchester Museum and the Imperial War Museum North. There is always something for everyone in Manchester,” the southpaw added.
“For the fans travelling with family you can keep your children entertained at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Play Factore and LEGOLAND Discovery centre. Take them there for a day filled with laughter and thank me later,” the 32-year-old further added.
Where To Eat
When it comes to food everyone seems to miss their home cooked food. And Raina is no different. “Being on tour, I always miss home cooked food. If someone says kadi chawal, my eyes brighten. But thankfully in England we were never short of Indian food. Indique and Kabana are my favourite restaurants,” the Chennai Super King veteran said.
“Bonbon is a chocolate haven. They use Valrhona chocolate to make the best pecan salted praline and salted caramel truffles I have ever had. The Takk in the Northern Quarter of Manchester has some really good coffee. The thing about Takk is that their coffee beans are sourced from myriad of places,” he added.
Where To Shop
“The Trafford Centre, the Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre and the Barton Arcade are three places I go shopping. The Trafford Centre has high-end brands from all over the globe. While the centre has modern shops, the walls and the architecture takes you back to the Victorian era. The centre has free parking space too. Imagine that in India,” he laughed.
“The Arndale is the biggest indoor shopping centre in Manchester. There is a saying among the locals, ‘think shopping, think Arndale.’ The Barton Arcade has 15 exclusive and independent stores, catering to both men’s and women’s,” Raina added.
Where To Go
“An hour’s drive from Manchester is the Blackpool Pleasure Beach offering rickety old roller coaster rides. On the other side of Manchester is Buxton that is located right on the edge of the Peak District. If you are into caves there’s the Pooles Cavern and Go Ape. If someone is into nature and wildlife then I would recommend them to take a trip to Delamere Forest. The fans can take their tents there and camp there for the night,” he advised.
“Having said all that, I am more excited to go back to England during the World Cup and take a trip to Peppa Pig World at the Paulton Park along with one of my best mates Harbhajan Singh,” he concluded. (Read Harbhajan Singh's guide to London here)
India play Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester on June 16.