Mike Atherton mentioned in his column in The Times
, London, a couple of days ago, that the English players were reminded to take along their Playstations and DVDs, because they would be cooped up in their hotel rooms during the Test tour of India.
There have been several comments on blogs from around the cricketing world, talking about how difficult it will be for England’s players to play the Test series knowing they cannot de-stress because they will be cooped up.
Well, frankly, they didn’t need a reminder. From everything we know, the English players have traditionally always stayed in their rooms, terror attacks or no terror attacks.
They do not go to the local bazaars, they are not known to drop in at the local cinema (unlike the Pakistani players when they visit India) and they rarely do anything else (unless it’s a commercial compulsion) that brings them into contact with the public.
Unless it’s for the (very) occasional round of golf with security-men in tow. This attitude while travelling to India/the Indian subcontinent seems to be a peculiarly English (or white) phenomenon (cricketer specific that is — as one Australian cricket writer told me, “The younger Aussie cricketers are no better”).
Just as an aside, the scribes and fans accompanying the team can be seen discovering India, mixing with locals and making friends quite easily.
One of the joys of a cricket tour, in addition to the cricket itself, is the travel, seeing new places, meeting people from different cultures, and definitely, making new friends.
Talk to any Indian cricketer who’s been with the team for any length of time and he would tell you of friends he’s made on tours to other countries, locals both of Indian origin and otherwise, people who bring him home-cooked meals, invite him into their homes and make a cricketer feel a little less lonely on tough away series that can often be both frustrating and lonesome.
It’s pretty much the same for those of us who’ve accompanied the Indian team anywhere in the cricketing world, though I must admit that the top of that list in the hospitality stakes was undoubtedly Pakistan.
The 45 days I spent in Pakistan in 2004 remain the most unforgettable days of my life. Stating I was Indian was a passport to open doors and open arms, open hearts and friendships that have lasted despite the strain of the times we live in.
So the big question ahead — will we tour Pakistan? As things stand, unlikely. Will those friendships last? I hope so.