For a layman, the dressing room is a mere changing room. For players, though, it’s much more. No wonder, some lasting friendships are struck here, joys and sorrows are shared, success is celebrated and failures endured.
Here are some interesting events and anecdotes from the Ferozeshah Kotla.
The dressing room is like a classroom when it comes to the seating order. “Sachin Tendulkar takes the back corner and Harbhajan Singh sits next to him. Likewise, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir sit together on the corner seats of the back row,” said a former cricketer, who often works as local manager with the India team.
Seniority and superstition too play a role. “Juniors wait for the seniors to pick their seats. Besides, players stick to the seats on which they have done well in the past,” said another dressing room insider.
Few celebrations here match what happened after Anil Kumble’s 10-wickets haul against Pakistan. “The team went berserk. Champagne flowed freely and everyone enjoyed the feat as his own,” said a DDCA employee.
Bedi and his dogs
Bishan Singh Bedi was a tough taskmaster and those who played under him have tales to tell. Kirti Azad, who captained Delhi then, recalls one.
“He’d bring two dogs — a Labrador and Doberman — to training, who’d take rounds of the ground with us. After about a month, the Lab disappeared. We were curious but didn’t have the courage to ask paaji. We asked the driver.
“The dog came under a truck. Perhaps, it preferred death to this everyday torture,’ he said, leaving us in splits.
“Later, the second dog too didn’t turn up. Again, we asked the driver. ‘It had a heart attack.” We slipped away, fearing for our lives.”
The old dressing room had one of its doors opening into a bar, and the players made the most of this. “We’d smuggle beer into the dressing room. The bottles were then duly put into buckets in the bathroom to cool them and pulled out at the appropriate time for a grand party,” said Azad.