On Monday night, at the end of yet another day of uncertainty and tension, with the siege of Sydney entering its second day, it was decided that the Indian players here needed to do something different on Tuesday.
“There had been no practice, no physical activity to get the body moving, get them involved,” said assistant manager MV Sridhar. The day had gone by in people walking around waiting for news from the Board, which could come anytime. “We thought it was important to do something that would also get them involved, lift the mood, get them out of the hotel.”
India trainer Greg King, charged with organising the project, came up with the idea of the trip to Bondi Beach. It made perfect sense: If the players had to bond, then why not do it somewhere that had sun, surf and sand?
Finally though, there wasn’t all that much sun, but the players had a blast anyway, playing beach volleyball, first among themselves and then against a team of lifeguards (both of who later claimed victory), training on the sand and in the water.
While all of them did not get into the chilly water, of those that did, close mates RP Singh and MS Dhoni stayed in really long, giving the lifeguards some tension by venturing too close to the danger zone markers.
When they were done, the duo joined the rest of their teammates and the others’ wives at a restaurant and bar called Nik’s across the street in the Bondi pavilion.
They attracted no little attention of course, trailed by fans and the media, but it didn’t seem to bother them this time, they were having too much fun.
“It’s great to be out of the hotel,” said a young player. “I was getting really bored and frustrated with not doing anything much, I hope we don’t have to wait too long for a decision, one way or the other.”
The players incidentally, seem far more peaceful on the day compared to Monday, when emotions were running high and players were just reacting instinctively.
“I thought it would be more like this today,” a senior Indian player told HT. “More calm, slightly irritated by the lack of any action. From what I can see, everyone wants things resolved at the earliest so they can go back to playing cricket.”
That they do, but not at the cost of not standing together or backing Harbhajan. This crisis has been wonderful for India in one way —- it has brought this band of men together as they had never been.
There is suddenly, a common cause, a sense of purpose, a wonderful sense of being part of a brotherhood. For the moment, whatever happens, the Indian players are revelling in that feeling.