Different climes, different attitudes

Published : Oct 27, 2001 00:00 IST

GOING on a tour to a foreign country can be exciting. Not only does one get to see different people and experience different cultures, one is also exposed to sights one cannot see in one's own land. The food can be different, the weather certainly so, and the accommodation can vary from place to place. If one is lucky, one can see the wonders of the world, too.

Not that too many of the modern-day cricketers are interested in sight-seeing considering the hectic schedules they have and the fitness routine they have to go through even on rest days.

The Australians, however, have worked out a plan. When a player is rested they ask him to take a complete break from the game so that he does not have to even go to the ground during a Test match. On such occasions players can take in the sights of the country and expand their horizons. Even England has done this. Remember Jonathan Agnew saving a girl from drowning when he was at the beach in Chennai while the rest of his teammates were slogging it out in the heat of the Chidambaram Stadium?

In India, this is unthinkable, for leave alone giving time off from the game, a player however senior he may be is not even given the option of choosing the form of the game he is comfortable with. Take Javagal Srinath, for instance. He wisely prefers to play Test cricket so as to prolong his career and usefulness to the Indian team. But he is told that he cannot pick and choose the format he wants!

Here in South Africa, Jonty Rhodes says he wants to be with his family and so he will play only one-dayers. But nobody holds that against him. Daryll Cullinan says he prefers Tests rather than one-dayers and the selectors accept it. It's the same with Allan Donald and not a word of protest is heard. These are decisions taken not only for the players' benefit, but also in the team's interest. But in India this is unacceptable, going by the tirade that a long time servant of Indian cricket like Srinath was subjected to by the authorities. Was that fair to him? Could they not have taken into account his service to the game before directing the harsh words at him?

Though a team game does allow the players to enjoy the sights and scenes in a foreign country more because of the camaraderie and mateship, it can be an entirely different story in an individual sport where a player may be the only one on the circuit from his country. Then, to be in a foreign country can be pretty lonely. It can be the same for the media personnel, for here their urge for exclusive dispatches makes it hard for them to be friendly with other scribes. So on lots of tours one has seen scribes from India staying in different hotels, so that what they are reporting remains exclusive and is not known to others.

But this can mean being lonely, especially after the day's work is done. Today, though that level of competition for scoops has decreased among scribes, say when compared to the 1992-93 tour to South Africa, there will always be eyes and ears left open for a story. However, that intense and sometimes insane competition, especially among the regional language scribes, is not there, and this has allowed them to share rooms on tours and go sightseeing together. At least this way they can be sure that their rival will not score a scoop over them!

For the Indian players, a tour overseas gives them an opportunity to move about with a little more freedom than at home where the star players get mobbed wherever they go. The likes of Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid cannot move freely in their home cities as also in most places in India. So when they come overseas they can do the usual things, like going to a restaurant, seeing a movie, or say shopping, without being mobbed. Of course, thanks to TV coverage, their faces are recognised worldwide and there are the odd requests for autographs and photographs, but these are easily handled.

So it's no surprise to find the Indian players at a game parlour where they can play video games, pool and such stuff that schoolkids enjoy. Their delight at being able to take part in these games is to be seen to be believed and the fierce competitive streak that is there in their professional sport, is there in these games too, which they play with their teammates.

A Tendulkar or a Dravid plays these video games with the same ferocity and determination as he plays his cricket. The only difference is when the star players lose here they can afford to laugh about it. It helps to take their minds off for a while from the daily grind that is so much a part of modern-day cricket. The gentle leg pulling if one loses only enhances team spirit and mateship and makes even a superstar look human.

South Africa is a place where there is plenty of everything. There are some historic places to see, there's Cape Town, the prettiest cricketing city I have been to, there are different cuisines and a sporting attitude that is second only to Australia. This is the third tour to South Africa in a decade for the Indians and it can be made more memorable by winning here for the first time. One way to do so is to release a bit of pressure off the field so that they will be competitive on it.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment