Thursday, November 02, 2006

Match Day

After meeting my idols, match day was met with much excitement. I was interested to see how my boys would do and keen to spy Mamood and Bell try and keep Australia out of the Championships.

Cricket in India is a religion, in a country that is spiritually diverse with more faiths, beliefs and odditys than anywhere else in the world, it is strange to think that the one thing that unifies this nation is a colonial game that dominates popular culture.

If I had 10 rupees for every time I am asked about Ricky Ponting I would be a billionaire.

Tricky Ricky as he is known, is akin to a cult figure here and Indian's sing songs in his praise where the only identifiable line is

'oh Tricky Ricky.....'

On arrival at the ground, I was forced to go through more security checks than one would need to visit The White House. I was frisked and felt up 3 times, my bag was opened, closed and prodded every 10 metres on approach to the ground and I wondered if I would ever manage to get inside before the first 50 overs were bowled.

I was seated square of the wicket enclosed in a cage with about 200 other westerners. On either side sat thousands of Indians who went crazy any time someone from our side approached the fence.

When purchasing a samosa through the wire (there is NO food in the tourist section but ice cream and chips) I almost caused a riot and police swarmed to beat the Indians who were squashed up against the fence to get a closer look at me down with large canes.

The game itself was pretty dull, there was a little excitement early in the second innings when Gilly got out to a wicked delivery from Mamood, but given the English middle order collapse it was a walk in the park for the Aussies and a long flight to Australia to defend the Ashes for the Brits.

When McGrath was fielding at third man (near me) I approached the boundary to get a picture and and he gave me a nod of recognition, a smile and a wave and others in the crowd besieged me with questions

So how do you know Glen McGrath?

I laughed and said, this is my favourite travel story and suddenly the events of two days earlier were relived and retold as Australia knocked England out of the tournament.

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