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Business as usual after the big win

Another early flight. I barely reached the airport in time but Steve Waugh was already there, looking tired & defeated, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2003 11:48 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur

Another early, early flight. Check-in at 5.30. I barely reached the airport in time but already there - ahead of me in the queue - was Steve Waugh, looking tired and defeated but wearing a jacket and tie, travelling to Sydney.

In the departure lounge Waugh went completely unnoticed, or maybe others chose to keep a safe distance from him. He signed forms to log in the frequent flier points, picked up a handbag and off he went. No drama, no fuss - the Australian cricket captain is no different from any other passenger.

My destination was Hobart, in the southern part of Australia, which has a very small airport. Fierce sniffer dogs were around (so were similar- looking quarantine inspectors), and the luggage took some time coming.

After a longish wait it (the luggage) was hauled up not on a fancy conveyor belt but brought in on an open trolley.

On tours, with the focus squarely on cricket, all else must compete for remaining space. Which basically means players have no time, and even a huge Test win has to recede into the background. It must be quickly out of the way.

At Adelaide, India beat the unbeatable Australians, the best team in business, world cricket's ultimate dada. But such is the boring compulsion of a tour that there was no opportunity to pause and party, sit back and chill.

For the Indian team, in this glorious moment, terribly mundane activities occupied time and fought for attention.

As the team returned from the ground, coach John Wright was on the microphone in the team bus and after the usual congratulations (to Raool (Rahul Dravid)and Lax (VVS Laxman)) he reminded the boys to put bags outside their rooms after dinner and said the dress code for travel the next day was blue full-sleeved shirt/any trouser but no jeans.

So, what does a team do after winning big? Jashan, party, celebration, hangama and halla? Nothing of the sort. Zero.

The dressing rooms erupt with joy as soon as batsmen grab the stumps for keeping as souvenirs. There is much yelling, cheering, jhappies and high fives. Champagne, which arrives magically after the winning run is scored, is not consumed but dutifully sprayed, poured over others and dropped on the floor.

Besides this, little else. One hour after India's most famous overseas Test win in 25 years, after interviews and a call from the PM, Sourav Ganguly went for a walk with wife and daughter. Did he fear India would lose? No, he said. “I knew we’d win.” Was he very tense? "Yes," he admitted. “It was so bad I didn’t see the first three balls from MacGill.”

He was so relaxed, composed and dignified someone said he looked like Napoleon after a famous victory. Like Sourav, others too did nothing special, all had calls to make, bags to pack.

But the busiest person that evening was Rahul Dravid. He shook hands, posed for photographs, did print/TV interviews, all the time with the India cap on his head and a huge smile on his face.

First Published: Dec 18, 2003 01:17 IST