I’ve never been on an overseas tour before, and the chaos on the first morning is something to behold. It’s a relatively inexperienced team, so the simple things like getting up on time for breakfast having already packed your kit were beyond some of the bowlers.
Even though it’s only a short trip from the hotel to the ground, the jockeying for prime seats on the bus, everyone staking their claim for the rest of the tour, had to be seen to be believed. If the spinners bowl with the guile that was on display as they shimmied into front row seats, they might get some wickets.
The toss went against us and the team was sent out into the field, which might have been a good thing to get straight into it – 30 deg and not so humid, with only a chance of rain.
The talk at lunch was dominated not by the lack of wickets taken in the session but by the news from South Africa that the Blade Runner was behind bars, accused of murdering his girlfriend. No-one had actually met him before, so all the talk of hot tempers and gun toting was based in no way in fact or firsthand experience.
Lunch itself was a lavish feast as usual at these smaller grounds, with the locals trying very hard to impress. After half an hour, not even the notoriously ravenous non-playing squad members had put a dent in the spread.
Things should have settled down in the afternoon session, but it was not to be. It was a bit weird in the dressing room, as the membership of The Reject Club – the 5 members of the team not named in the 12 – was not the usual “fish that John West Rejects.” The team on the field was stacked with “maybes”, so instead of slacking off all day, we had the Captain hanging around like a bad smell keeping an eye on us. Then there was one of the batsmen trying to convince everyone, including himself, that he was being rested and was really a dead cert’ for the first test. We kept winding him up by trying to imply he was going to be a tour-long member of The Reject Club, offering him entry into our exclusive sweep and asking him what sized “I’m a Reject” t-shirt he wanted – but he was having none of it.
The day ended with a stack of runs on the board for India A, and the spinners having had a lot of practice acting pained at the injustice of an alleged jaffa being dispatched to the boundary. The Indian players, none of whom are down to play in the first test, were all keen to show the selectors what a grave injustice it was that they were left out of the squad for the real game next week. 4/338 – ouch.