Cricket tours are strange in some ways. They stretch on for months, span many cities and yet often you can return home without seeing anything beyond the cricket grounds and hotels.
You spend hours watching the players at practice, wait idly at their hotel for someone or the other to address a press
The other thing about tours is that they are limited to nine countries (other than your own) and even that number is fast dwindling with Zimbabwe out of the loop and Pakistan achieving similar status. What this means is you often find yourself back at a city which you’ve visited before.
It’s not unusual to get a feeling of déjà vu when you reach a stadium and know exactly where the dressing rooms, entries and exits are. For that one reason alone New Zealand is different. India do not tour the country as often and everything seems fresh and new.
Also, with people like Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton involved, there is a stress on the players experiencing different things. Monday being a rest day, the team headed outdoors, making full use of the fine weather.
They spent the first half in the mountains, surging up and down the slopes in six-wheeled vehicles and capped it off speed jetting in the Waima waters in a spell of jet boating.
It also opened up a window for the travelling media contingent to take in a morning harbour cruise with the aim of spotting the world’s smallest dolphins — Hector’s dolphins.
The breathtaking scenery, complete absence of discordant noise and knowledgeable commentary of the 100-seater catamaran’s skipper more than made up for the fact that we did not spot a single
dolphin. The harbour itself is in the crater of an extinct volcano and to get there you travel through a two kilometre long tunnel — the only one in the world through the wall of a volcano.
On the cruise, you see the remains of Breeze, the gun battery (which was never used) built in 1886 fearing a Russian invasion and Quail Island, which Robert Scott used as a training ground for his ponies and huskies before setting off on Antarctic missions.
When the cruise ended, we’d had our first taste of New Zealand, tourist style.
All we can hope for is that the Indian team takes time out to take in the sights, leaving open a similar window for those who follow them like shadows.