Four elderly gentlemen — distinctly foreigners — watch the unofficial Test between India A and England Lions intently, at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium.
Harry Trapp, Phil Hilton, Jimmy Strong and Neil Fish — from the U.K. — have hardly missed a ball in the contest. After all, they have taken the trouble to plan their tours to watch their team — the England Lions — live at the ground.
They have all retired from work, or semi-retired, as Hilton informs. “We got to know each other on another tour like this,” says the former printer. “I have been to several cricket-playing countries, including Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.”
Fans travelling the world to watch their favourite teams for big-ticket events like the football World Cup or the Olympics is not unusual. But, these visitors wish to watch even low-profile events like Ranji Trophy. At the same venue, one recalls meeting a visitor couple — Ian and Sue Jones — who had been visiting India for a decade and a half, and could be spotted at any Ranji Trophy venue.
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These men know them. “But Sue passed away some time back; she had been ill for the last few years,” says Trapp, who used to be a fire engineer. “But, Ian was planning to come for this match, but his train from Goa, where he is residing, was delayed so much that he had to cancel it.”
Interaction with Dravid
After this match, the four men would travel to Mysuru for the second and final game of the series. When a newspaper wrongly reported that the match would be held here, Fish got an opportunity to clarify with Rahul Dravid, the coach of India-A team. “While I was just outside the ground, I saw Mr. Dravid during his walk,” he says. “I said, ‘Congratulations Mr. Dravid on a wonderful career’ and then I asked him where the second match was. He said it was in Mysuru.”
Trapp says they never bother the English cricketers about posing for selfies. “When we saw England coach Andy Flower the other day, we just said ‘Good Morning Mr. Flower’; that’s it,” he says.
This particular visit has been special — they are all bowled over by the beauty of the ground. “It is the most beautiful ground I have seen in India,” remarks Fish.