IPL diary – week 1
MONDAY, APRIL 9
Monday mornings are the same for me no matter where I am, I do not detest them like those who dread having to go back to work. This Monday is special though. It’s Easter Monday so at breakfast, I wish all those that I meet a Happy Easter. That certainly brightens the start of my day and hopefully theirs.
The television screens are full of pictures of Yuvraj Singh returning to India after receiving chemotherapy in America. There is happiness around because he is on his way to recovery. I find it amazing that some of the crew who work on cricket just about all the time, had no idea about Yuvraj’s issues at all.
The match we are to do in the evening involves the Mumbai Indians and they are staying in the hotel next to ours. I get word from those who’ve been out of our hotel of how people have been camped out at the front of it so as to get a glimpse of Sachin Tendulkar. To say he is popular in India is the greatest understatement.
At breakfast I make a commitment to begin swimming lessons with a few of the crew each morning (I shall have to live up to that...oops) and so am dreading the next day. My legs already hurt from the 3 treadmill runs in a row and I just have something against great big bodies of water.
The game between Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians is certainly the best of the tournament so far. Some great fast bowling and brilliant batting by Dale Steyn and Rohit Sharma respectively. It was just magnificent to watch, so exciting!
The only thing that mars my day is the fact that I have to be well on my guard because of having to “see a man about a dog” more often than is normal. I was even rather afraid of doing the post match presentation all the way across the field in case I had to go. The trip home through heaps of after-match traffic was equally if not more daunting and only when I got into my room did I breathe a sigh of relief.
At the end of a decent and enjoyable day, my hope is that I shall be fit as a fiddle come the next day... sleeping my troubles away.
SUNDAY, APRIL 8
What a great day! It felt like a Sunday as I had nothing to be up for so could lie in till the very latest that breakfast would be open. That so I could get some much needed sleep after a late night but also so as to pass some time away in the day. Whilst it is great to have an off day, those are the tough ones as there’s not much one can do to fill the spare time.
The biggest news of the day was that the Mumbai Indians were arriving in town. Thankfully, they are not in the same hotel as us as the place would become even more of a sightseeing spot. Already we have people just walking into the place just to have a glimpse at player X or player Y.
A bit of exercise and general chatter was the order of my day and then taking in both games that were on on the day. Pune winning again – how about that! During the second game, there was a barbeque for the crew so the evening was spent chuntering about this, that and the other whilst many guzzled beers down their throats. I did sneak away to go and see Manchester United beat Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League – there were a few ‘not so happy' people about that result, as usual!
The end of the day was most exciting though as my television miraculously came on (the golf channel had not worked since I got here) and I could watch the last round of The Masters... exhilarating stuff!! What a win by Bubba Watson!! Hard luck though to Louis Oosthuizen.
It sure is amazing how dramatic sport can be.
SATURDAY, APRIL 7
I think I like this city. I awoke to the sounds of waves smashing ashore along the coast as our hotel in Vizag is right on the beach. It is a beautiful noise for one who grew up in a landlocked country and now lives in Johannesburg. The view from my window is a pleasant one.
Breakfast is a necessity and part of the routine that one tries to get into on tour. It is also an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the crew and plot what goes on for the rest of the day. A bit of appreciation at brekky that the city has a name other than "Visakhapatnam" (its name in the Telugu language), as that is quite a mouthful.
A bit of exercise (have been struggling in that department so decided to get back on the horse) and some reading before heading to the ground later for game No 2 – Deccan Chargers v Chennai Super Kings.
It was a rather eventful day at work where I was called Makhaya by Sunny Gavaskar. His explanation was that he was busy talking about Ntini with Dhoni just before he had to interview him. I did not let him live it down as I called him Sanjay all evening... probably should have gone for Vishy (Gundappa Viswanath, his friend and former teammate).
The post-match presentation was rather interesting too at the match as there were a couple of people who plonked themselves there and refused to move until I had to add them to the list of dignitaries so they could have their two minutes of the spotlight. It never ceases to amaze me how much people love to be on the camera.
To cap the day off, had a drink in the bar among some Chennai players and coaches with the TV crew there too, to unwind after the production. All sorts of things were discussed; most interesting was the burgeoning of a rather tough assignment; selecting a “current form” test XI and an all-time “entertainment value” test match XI. I reckon that is not going to be anywhere near sorted even by the end of the IPL. A lot of selection bickering ahead.
FRIDAY, APRIL 6
It’s Good Friday, Happy Easter to everybody. I wake up rather late and learn at breakfast that there has been another not so little “shower” in the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, I heard nothing at all...I must have been knackered. After a brief catch up at breakfast with Dermot Reeve (who is on our commentary team this year rather than coaching Pune...Sunil Gavaskar and Craig Macmillan are the other two I’m with) and sorting out my mobile phone, I pack and get ready for domestic flight number 1. We are off to Vizag or Vishakhapatnam...a two hour flight as we are in a propeller flight (uh oh!!)
The trip’s good...all the airport rules still apply; if you see a gap, take it and don’t wait around or walk too slowly as you will be swept out of the way. Be polite but beware of being shoved over. Everything is at a fast pace.
I am thankful that I was not on the crew bus that broke down on the way from the airport...I managed to watch the introduction of young West Indian Kevon Cooper to the IPL. What a start for the young Trini!!
THURSDAY, APRIL 5
It is never pleasant sitting around at airports; I just always feel that it is such a waste of time. I was therefore ecstatic that my connecting flight to Kolkata was in just over an hour...I did not have long to wait. It also is half the flying time of my previous flight and so not too long. No dramas on the flight, had to get some sleep as I was working the next day. I prefer to get straight into the swing of things. At just after eight in the morning we touch down. I am back in Incredible India, unsure what to expect this time, but with the full knowledge that all around me life will be lived to the fullest and there will be a lot of curious yet friendly people about...sometimes a bit closer than I am used to.
It is surprisingly cool in Kolkata and I learn from the driver taking me to the hotel that there had been “showers” the night before. It feels great! The ride to the Oberoi Grand, my abode for the night, is the usual hustly bustly and jam packed melee of movement towards the centre of the city...it takes about 45 minutes of passing and taking in all the billboards of famous faces and big Bollywood stars along the way (if you’re not sprawled on at least three big boards, you’re not famous) which is pretty good. A smooth start, yay!!
A few hours sleep were welcome and then off to the ground for game number 1- Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Daredevils. I must put out there that I just love watching Delhi because of the swashbuckling and seemingly carefree Virender Sehwag.
There was another “shower” which led to a delay in the game starting. I am told it was less heavy than the one that came down the night before and am so glad that I was not there for that one. A just about 70 000-strong Eden Gardens crowd wait around for two hours for the game and are treated to a decent contest but the home team come second in the end, thanks to some Morne Morkel and Irfan Pathan heroics. It ends up being a rather long day, we arrive back at the hotel at 0115hrs...I needed my bed.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4
Some are very happy with travelling all over the place for work but, for me, having done so for quite a while, I find it tough to leave home....it’s gut wrenching to think that I will not see my family for seven or eight weeks. To lessen the blow, I only get my packing done for the trip a couple of hours before my Emirates flight to Dubai just after lunch. My arrival in Dubai is at about midnight, I find out that the Mumbai Indians have beaten Chennai in the opening game and that Richard Levi has begun his tournament with a fifty. I am happy for him; I reckon he’ll do well in the competition.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3
It is always seems to creep up on me despite the fact that I am well aware on the dates of the Indian Premier League. I watched bits of the opening ceremony as I prepared for Inside Edge (SuperSport’s cricket show) which was on later in the evening. The colour and melodious sounds were unsurprising as it is what we have all come to expect. I must say though that I was surprised by the inclusion of Katy Perry in the lineup...I know very little about her. It was nice.