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More rehab, Mr Cricket and dining out

Another week of rehab here in Chennai, India, but I’m making progress and, as I write this, I’ve just come back from the first training session where I was able to bat and do some fielding, minus the diving of course.

As it stands, the plan is for me to be available for selection for the game against the Kings XI Punjab on May 2. However, it’s going to be tough getting into the team at this stage as the guys having been playing well and are up there near the top of the table.

On top of that, Mike Hussey has been in great form and while that’s good for the team, it doesn’t do much for my prospects of playing. Indian Premier League teams are only allowed to field four non-Indian players per game, so there may have to be some juggling for me to get into the side. Also, after the success I had at the top of the order last year, I’m seen as that kind of batsman, and that’s where ‘Mr Cricket’ is batting.

I talked last year about Hussey’s nickname, but it really is the most accurate one as he lives, eats, drinks and breathes cricket. He’s also incredibly knowledgeable about the game with a great head for stats, so there isn’t too much he doesn’t know about cricket.

Throw in the fact that he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever come across, and it’s just very pleasant being in Mike Hussey’s company. I was curious about how he would be now that he has retired from international cricket. Like a lot of the other guys who have called it quits, he says that he does miss the guys, the team stuff and the camaraderie.

Having spent a few days on our own, Imari and I enjoyed having the team back from their travels and it was interesting seeing the new faces in the squad. Dirk Nannes I know from his time with the Lions, but there are a couple of Indian guys I haven’t met before.

Interestingly, you still have the guys from the respective countries sticking together, so most of my time off the field is spent with Albie Morkel, his wife and his little boy AJ, as well as Chris Morris, who is obviously new to the squad.

Otherwise, I’ve got to know the captain, MS Dhoni, fairly well over the couple of years I’ve been with the Chennai Super Kings. He’s a pretty reserved, but relaxed guy and is currently in some great form, winning games for us.

Interestingly, like a lot of the Indian players, he’s real ‘night owl’, particularly after a game, where the Indian guys will sit around chilling, talking rubbish and smoking a shisha (I’ve heard it called a ‘hubbly bubbly’ in SA), until about four in the morning.

I usually can’t keep my eyes open and head off by three at the latest. But those guys will go to bed at four and then wake up at four in the afternoon! So, that part is really different to our culture. Dhoni's door is also always open to the other players in the squad, so if the party after a game is over in the team room you’re bound to find some guys chilling in the captain’s room.

I think, as the tournament goes on, we’ll go out for dinner more as a squad, whereas the guys are still getting to know each other at the moment. Also, it’s quite different now that a lot of the families are with the players for the moment, so the guys tend to spend more time with their wives and kids as opposed to socialising with fellow squad members.

While the squad was on the road, Imari and I took the opportunity to try out a few new restaurants in Chennai. Fortunately, there aren’t just Indian restaurants, as you need a break from the local cuisine. We’ve managed to find a nice Greek restaurant, while there are also loads of Italian places, a Japanese spot and a couple of Thai restaurants, as Thailand is pretty close to Chennai (only a short flight away). Most importantly, Imari and I tracked down the local Nando's franchise and we dived in there, saying that we would more than likely be back fairly regularly!

We also took in the new mall in Chennai, and together with the Morkels experienced something incredible in the form of the local version of what we would refer to in South Africa as the IMAX. This place had a 5D screen which was just unbelievable, with the seat moving as you’re watching and water being sprayed on you as the movie’s character is dunked in water. Really something special.

Looking forward, it’s all about now getting on the park in a game, and making an impact for the Super Kings. I’m hoping that chance comes sooner rather than later.

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