Watching India from driver's seat

Alexander, currently driving the coach ferrying the Indian team on their England tour, says skipper MS Dhoni's favourite seat is the fully reclining one on the last row, window seat. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal gets the details.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2011 23:57 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times

For Alexander, Manchester United's win over Manchester City on Sunday reopened some past memories. It is just the day he would dread to be on work, from 1992 to 1999. A Manchester resident, he used to work for the company which had the contract to provide the coach for United. Most of the time, Alexander would be on the wheels.

A city fan
His problem was that he was a City fan and the Red Devils knew that. And, he would be in a spot whenever there was a Manchester derby. He vividly remembers Alex Ferguson looking at him with a big, sarcastic grin after vanquishing his team.

Since then he has switched his workplace and now drives for the company contracted to the England and Wales Cricket Board. Currently, he is driving the coach ferrying the Indian team on their England tour.

Given that the longest drive from one venue to the other is around seven hours, teams prefer to take the road over flights in England. And the buses are modified to provide the same level of comfort as a flight.

The bus ferrying the Indian team is specially designed. It is fitted with eight plasma screens, a toilet, a small kitchen, two freezers and a refrigerator. The players sure enjoy the experience.

Team bus is fun
Former India opener, Wasim Jaffer, who was here on the 2007 tour, said: "Travelling on the bus is an experience and it really helps in team bonding." The 2007 batch was one of the most spirited ones.

The 36-seater bus has comfortable reclining seats, with four which stretch back fully like in the business class. These four are right at the end in the row behind the driver's seat. The seats are in a group of four each with a table in the centre.

Each player has a fixed seat which he had taken at the start of the tour. Sachin Tendulkar, like everytime, sits in the front seat. The seat paired to him is mostly vacant. In the other row, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan share the two seats.

Dhoni's favourite
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's favourite seat is the fully reclining one on the last row, window seat. "On 2007 tour too he had the same seat."

VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid occupy the two reclining ones facing the skipper.

Sreesanth sits on the opposite side of Dhoni & Co. In the Man United coach, it used to be the preferred seat of Ferguson and David Beckham. "Fergie loved playing cards and Beckham and Giggs were his regular partners," recollects Alexander.

The Indian team is a relatively quiet lot, he says.

Dhoni's men spend their time mainly watching Bollywood flicks, and occasionally a Hollywood movie.

First Published: Aug 07, 2011 23:49 IST