Since last playing for Victoria in the One Day final in February, it’s been a roller-coaster ride. I was kicking back on the farm in Mansfield mastering my chain-sawing and fine-tuning my lagging social skills with old skiing mates around the fire, when I got a call from Andrew Hilditch.
A week later I was on a plane as 16th man in the World Cup in India. You can read more about that iun my previous post.
Next came my short IPL campaign. A short and sharp stint, as within 2 games, my season was over thanks to a nasty little side strain. The MRI facility that confirmed it was classical India. Whisked into a back street by barely competent drivers, a shack turned out to be the most high-tech imaging joint I’ve seen anywhere in the world (and as a fast bowler I’ve seen many). The poor 80y.o. local who most likely had been waiting 3 months for his MRI appointment was booted off the machine mid-scan so they could get me in there. My wife sat in the Radiologist’s room drinking Chai tea, and heard everything about the place from the excited owner. They were so proud of the place. As a bonus, they put me into the CT Scan machine to show me how cool it was.
After a brief holiday in Goa with the family, we packed up from Melbourne and moved to the UK, where we are now happily settled. We live permanently in the UK, with the kids in school, everyone settled, and great neighbours. My wife has picked up her old sport of horse-riding (eventing), which could prove my financial undoing, but as they say ‘Happy wife, happy life’. We’ll see if that pans out.
I was lucky enough to be involved with Surrey in the UK T20 competition. We had a great campaign, with a super talented squad, and only a stumble in the last few games cost us a place in the finals. Less exciting was the 100 miles each way to games and training. It was a tough slog, but it introduced me to audiobooks. A bit nerdy I know, but there is only so much commercial radio I can listen to at any one time.
After the disappointment of being booted from the T20 in the UK, I thought I had until the Melbourne Renegades campaign in December to relax. But the life of a T20 player is an interesting one. The phone rang and a few days later I was off to Singapore for the ‘Olam Cup’ – a local T20 comp organised by the local Indian expat community modelled on the IPL with 4 franchises, and 5 overseas players in each side.
Let’s get one things straight … Captains have always whinged about it being a tough job. What a load of crap! I captained the mighty ICS Lions to the title on my first try. (Search for ICS Lions on facebook and there are heaps of photos on there). A few great cricketing names were at Singapore in Shane Bond, Shoiab Akhtar, Sanath Jayasuriya, and some Aussies like Luke Pomersbach (WA), Liam Davis (WA), Rhett Lockyer (TAS), Michael Dighton (TAS), and a heap of other people who just appeared out of the woodwork.
The last 6 weeks have been my first long break from cricket in what seems like years. I managed to sneak in a road trip with the family through Europe. A day or so before I set off, I heard from India that the rules were changed to allow me to compete in the CLT20 with Royal Challengers Bangalore this month. Previously, RCB and I thought I was ineligible as I was replaced by Chris Gayle, but in India, anything is possible.
Seriously … what crap timing! I’ve got to get myself from the sloth of couch surfing and enjoying a beer, to being a tear-away quick in the space of 4 weeks. Family holidays, and French/Austrian alps aren’t conducive to fast bowling.
After some hiking that I will put down as my ‘pre-season’ campaign, I made it back to London in time to again captain another side to a title. This time it was the ‘Rest of the World’ team in a game against England at the HAC ground in London – A cracking venue, right in the heart of London. It’s certainly strange captaining former stars like Jimmy Adams (West Indies), Saqlain Muhstaq (PAK), and others like hard hitting Irishman O’Brien, but I think we all enjoyed the day, and even better, the good guys won!
Back in the UK, my already shortened ‘mini-pre-season’ were some damn hard yards. The local cricket ground is a lonely place by yourself on wet and windy days in the UK, but that was all I could use to get bowling loads in on most days. Other times I made it to Surrey for a bowl in the middle of The Oval for training. Time will tell if I’ve done enough to prepare myself – I think I have.
I’m now sitting on a plane to Bangalore with Chris Gayle. Before getting on the plane our twitter banter went something like this:
@dirk_nannes: @henrygayle Unlucky big man. You’re stuck with me from London to Bangalore. Hope you talk clearer than you tweet. #isThereATranslatorOnBoard
Clearly by this tweet, I’m already on to him about his writing, but an hour later he comes out with this one:
@henrygayle: 2pm….jamaican talk! Me a look fi cut ya now!! Lol
Seriously?!? “Me a look fi cut ya now!!” Chris?!? What the hell does that mean? And who the hell understands that crap?
Turns out it’s “I’m about to leave now”. I’ve got a lot to learn!
I can’t end without mentioning my career sporting highlight that occurred about a month ago – The ‘All Out Cricket’ magazine September issue. Aside from it’s in depth articles on everything cricket related, it’s got a brilliant piece on the 27 Coolest Cricketers of all time. I’ve slipped in to 17th place, and best of all it’s above people like Chris Gayle (who was considered to be ‘trying too hard to be cool’). Makes for brilliant change room banter, and I’ll be showing this one to my great-grandkids when I’m in my cricket-induced wheelchair.
3 weeks in India, and my next appointment will be Zimbabwe in late November, followed by the huge Big Bash season with the Melbourne Renegades. I am absolutely stoked to be involved with such a young, fresh, high-risk/high-reward style of side like the Renegades. Whatever happens, it will be bloody exciting to watch us go at it on the field. What a team!
Go RCB and Renegades!