A test of the gut
Spinners may be India’s chief weapons against visiting cricket teams. But often, it is Delhi Belly that makes the first inroads into the opposition.
It’s just 12 days since Michael Vaughan’s England arrived here for three Test matches, seven one-dayers and a few dozen shrimp.
Already, Ian Blackwell, Monty Panesar, Shaun Udal and Simon Jones are down with stomach bugs.
A tour of India is, literally and metaphorically, a test of the gut and there have been spectacular instances of visiting players struggling with their tummies.
In 1993, Graham Gooch introduced us to designer stubble by sporting a gravitassy grey stubble (maybe the destruction wreaked by Vinod Kambli and the spin troika – Anil Kumble, Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatapathy Raju – drove him to the forlorn look).
Gooch also showed us what happens when you walk into the corridor of uncertainty that is the seafood section.
The captain had prawns of questionable quality in Chennai, and paid for it by being unable to play the second Test.
Gooch must have remembered countryman John Emburey then. About a decade earlier, the offspinner had repented for giving into his desire for curry as soon as landing in Bombay.
Emburey and his roommate, John Lever, placed their order almost the moment they kept their bags down.
The effects were just as prompt. Minutes after consuming the fare, Emburey leapt off his seat and onto the toilet.
Aussie leg-spinner Shane Warne likes to sample the local variety when he travels. But when it comes to food, he is known to maintain fidelity to a few things.
So when he flew to India in 1998, he brought with him cans of beans and Vegemite, the traditional Aussie bread spread.
That was a time when the culinary revolution in India was just starting, and Warne, not a spice enthusiast, thought it wise to not take chances.
The cricket scholar Ramachandra Guha remembers that when he went to see Bishan Singh Bedi in his hotel room during the series, a couple of empty bean cans were around. Warne had paid Bedi a visit for bowling tips.