I was looking forward to blogging most days whilst at the World Cup, but things just got in the way. Forgive me if I’m rusty. For starters, much of my time was spent coming to grips with the role of the 16th man in a world cup squad. Classed officially as ‘entourage’, I was left on my own to discover what a 16th man actually does. I’m yet to work it out, but I will keep you posted.
As 16th man, I didn’t enjoy the common luxuries like the rest of the squad. The simple pleasures, like a room at each hotel, were often hard to come by without waiting an hour in reception because my name was not on the team list. More importantly, I didn’t get my name sewn in to my towels in each changeroom, or the fancy memorabilia that Tony Greig would call an ‘Original, 6 inch ICC Commemorative World Cup Replica Trophy’, complete with ‘Handmade Luxury Display Case’ that would no doubt be a collector’s item to be passed down the generations … I can just see Ricky’s grandchildren 45 years from now proudly displaying this dust collector in its original luxury display case.
The flipside to these downfalls is the glorious stuff that comes with touring, the things that you can’t really explain to people unless they are there. One such instance was yesterday morning.
My favourite fast bowler (Shaun Tait) and I were waiting for our ride to the airport. The rest of the team flew out last night, but we were staying behind to catch different flights. When you aren’t part of the main touring plans, things just work differently – normally a lot worse.
Uday our reliable driver’s job brief was to pick up 2 Australian’s from the hotel this morning. He did that most ably, but he took the wrong 2 Aussies – most likely just a couple of backpackers from Sydney who were wrapped to have a free car and driver for the day, cruising Ahmadabad in a futile attempt to find something remotely interesting.
We were stuck, no ride, a plane to catch, and not enough time to do it … what the hell were we going to do? Gone was our standard bus with 4 police cars out in front, sirens blaring, announcing that a cricket team was coming through and that all within 500m should run quickly to the roadside to say Hi.
But how our fortunes changed.
The local constabulary came to our aid, and this time it was the stuff that kids dream about. Hollywood action in downtown Ahmedabad!
We had a bulletproof car! A presidential motorcade! (maybe without the motorcade part as we were on our own, but it seemed at least 50% presidential, and lets not let the truth get in the way of my story).
Now before you think Hollywood drama, it’s important you realise that we’re still in India, so it wasn’t your classic Hollywood 2 second getaway with tyres screeching. You see, when you are an Indian policeman, it’s important to make sure that when transporting any cricketers, you alert as many people as possible. Hell, call in your mates for a photo, get your hair gel out, put your best sunnies on, but lets just get on with it!
“Yes Rajiv, those 47 people across the road can see you have 2 cricketers in the car … we can leave now … come on Rajiv, no need to call your mother-in-law to come and take your photo … yes Rajiv, you can have ‘one snap’ with Mr Tait in front of your car … no Rajiv, just get in the bloody car and drive already! ”. Christmas came and went, and then we started moving.
When I was a kid designing my bulletproof car out of Lego, it had a massive engine. The kind of engine that Batman’s car had. When you put your foot down, it went faster than a Ferrari, screeching tyres, flames coming out the back and lots of noise. Today, Rajiv’s rocketship was an Indian Suzuki Vitara, with the engine from my Dad’s 1985 ride-on mower. Weigh it all down with a ton of bulletproof glass, and this ride was more like a sailing of the Queen Mary.
BUT … that didn’t make it less entertaining. Batman’s machine didn’t have 4 policemen with guns sandwiched inside, and last time I checked you couldn’t even register a Suzuki Vitara at home to carry 7 people. I thought I was improvising to get 6 in my old Datsun Stanza, so 7 in the Vitara was most entertaining. I have used my IT degree for the first time in attaching a B-grade photo of the car here:
For a boat, we made it to the airport in record time. A few well placed head wobbles to key people, and we were on our flight. I can assure you that there was no presidential treatment in seat 34c on the JetLite flight to Mumbai, but like all good flights, I managed to walk off at my destination.
The World Cup is over for us, but it was a good time. Crap result, but a good place to tour as entourage. 16th man is not a bad job if you can get it.