Most cricketers spend the month or two following the season with their feet up. Many go on holiday. Some go to the pub. And some, well one anyway, walks across the Sahara.

Dougie Brown has never been an ordinary fellow. As the backbone of the Warwickshire side for the last decade he has allied a 'never say die' attitude to remarkable displays of stamina and enthusiasm. He is the only player remaining on the staff who took part in the unprecedented treble of 1994 and has been involved in two other Championship-winning sides since. His career may be in its twilight but his place in the club's folklore is assured.

Now he has embarked on his most ambitious project yet. Some time today, Dougie will be dropped off in the Moroccan part of the Sahara desert to start a week-long trek in some of the most draining conditions imaginable.

The Sahara is the largest desert in the world. It covers 25 per cent of the African continent and touches Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. In the day time the sun is fierce; in the night the chill is deadly. It is an inhospitable place. Even to someone brought up in Scotland.

The motivation? Brown hopes to raise several thousand pounds for Cure Leukaemia, a charity based at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital that aims to develop and deliver new treatments to benefit patients in the West Midlands. The charity requires #5 million to fulfil its aims but has already helped establish The West Midlands Leukaemia Centre; a ground-breaking clinic that is at the forefront of new research and treatment techniques.

So why is a man who is 37 tomorrow and missed the final portion of the season with a serious back injury putting himself through it?

It's not as if he isn't busy. In January he'll join up with the Scotland squad to prepare for their World Cup campaign while he has a Warwickshire place to win back next season.

"I was asked to attend a Cure Leukaemia golf day," Brown says. "Both Ashley Giles and I decided there and then that this was a charity worth backing and I said that as soon as my benefit season was out of the way I'd do what I could to help.

"Being given a benefit was a real privilege. Now I want to give something back. I want to use my experience of fund-raising to help other people, and I know that every penny we raise will make I real difference."

Leukaemia is a formidable foe as 7,000 people of all ages are suffering from the disease in Birmingham alone. Eighty per cent of the adults and 30 per cent of the children will die from of it. With such sobering mortality rates, the requirement for the new centre is obvious.

"I was struck by the people I met," Brown says. "Many of them looked perfectly normal. They had jobs and went to the gym like the rest of us. But they had leukaemia and many of them were going to die. They were fighting it with all their might and I just found them so impressive.

"I've also become good friends with Geoff Thomas [the former England, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers football player].

"His battle sums it up, really. As a sportsman he was clearly fit and healthy and the fact that he was struck down shows just what an indiscriminate disease this is. He was diagnosed in 2003 but has fought all the way. He's living proof that with the right treatment people can lead full lives.

"He cycled the Tour de France three days ahead of the field; and stayed three days ahead all the way around. He's an amazing man and if he can do that I can cope with this."

Brown knows it will not be easy, however. "The temperatures in the day will rise to 45 degrees while at night it will drop below freezing. The conditions promise to be hugely testing and that's even before we come across the snakes and scorpions. But I'm actually really looking forward to it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I know it's for a great cause.

"It also made me realise how lucky I am. I've been blessed with good health, as has my daughter, and it seems only fair to do my bit to help others.

"I had been advised to take active rest, anyway. I guess this is just a bit more active than most."

 For more information, or to sponsor Dougie Brown, visit or telephone 0121 627 5858. Alternatively you can send a cheque to Dougie Brown's Sahara Challenge, Cure Leukaemia, Centre for clinical haematology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Morris House, Metchley Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH.