When a team is getting the kind of results this Indian team has, the spirit in the camp in inevitably good. The atmosphere is relaxed and players enjoy every aspect of the cricketing experience from practicing to playing to recovery. The think tank are leaving nothing to chance, though, and the lead-up to the final game was perfect to put the team in a relaxed frame of mind.
Friday morning's practice was optional and only Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha and Irfan Pathan turned up. Paddy Upton was conspicuous by his absence - he was deep-sea fishing with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rahul Dravid.
The rest of the team had various alternative activities lined up as well. The 90-minute “Sky Walk” on the outside of the Sky Tower was undertaken by Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Praveen Kumar. Zaheer Khan led the two-hour climb of the Harbour Bridge. The best attended was the four-hour dolphin and whale safari, with a large group heading out to sea.
These sort of team-building exercises are not new, but they work especially well when the team is happy as a unit and players are enjoying each others' company. “We've got a 48-day tour, it is pretty much cricket all-in and all-out,” Gary Kirsten, the coach, pointed out. “You have only one or two days between games these days.
“We certainly encourage less practice time when you are on the road because you are in game time already,” Kirsten revealed, offering an insight into the team's approach to touring. “Mental freshness is more important, not necessarily going to hit an additional hundred balls at nets. What we do is we create a lot of optional sessions so for those that feel like coming down, we are available to do some work, and the others can take time off and relax.
“At least when it comes to match time, we know the guys are in a happy space and they are comfortable with how they have gone about their business in the two days before. They are ready to go play another game of cricket for their country. That's the bottom line - what happens at 2 o'clock tomorrow when they cross the rope. Not what's happened at nets today, or not what they have done outside of the ground.”