The first of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) final games was won by the Lahore Badshahs. The stadium was absolutely packed with the majority seemingly supporting the Pakistan based team. The Hyderabad Heroes put in a good game, but were simply out played on the night. We were given seats in the VIP area of the stands and as such had an excellent view of the game. At the end of the first innings we made our way inside for a meal before settling down for the remainder of the match.
About half way through the second innings Leroy Lobo (physiotherapist) and myself were approached by the floor manager for the ICL telecast, and one of the key presenters of the ICL tournament. They requested for us to do an interview. We both did one at a previous game and that seemed to go OK, so we agreed to do it. It was all fairly painless with questions on how we have found the ICL, the standard of cricket and our tips for who will win the series (we are both experts now!). The funny thing is that the players whom had gone back to Bangladesh for a week R&R saw us on the telecast – it allegedly has a subcontinent viewing audience in excess of 200 million! That’s 3 minutes of fame down!
The telecast by Zee TV has been first class throughout the whole tournament. Every night a game is televised live from various parts of India. The anchor for the program is Australia’s own, Dean Jones. Other commentators well known in Australia include Tony Greig (ICL Board member) and former Indian test cricketer (and now CEO of the ICL) Kapil Dev. The telecast rolls along with the game itself, cheer squads, music, replays, half time entertainment called Cricket Boom Boom, presentations and a full wrap up of the game. It certainly comes across as a very slick product and the people involved at the games are very professional and personable. As we have moved around India and played our 8 series games, we have got to know a lot of the “behind the scenes” people. I guess it is like most sporting industries, but they are all very passionate about what they do – and it shows.
Speaking of passionate…. I have had some problems with my mobile phone here. It is quite a complicated system in India, with a national telecommunications company (Airtel). The problem stems from the fact that every state in India has different conditions for the same company. As such, if you purchased your phone or air time in one state, it does not necessarily transfer to another (or something like that!). Anyway, my phone was barred in Ahmedabad. It appeared that paperwork that should have been submitted in Chandigarh had not been processed. As such, just when all of the players had left for Bangladesh, I was without a phone for contact! I went to the Airtel store which was about 1km from our hotel.
I could write for a fair while on my repeated visits to the Airtel office here in Ahmedabad. Suffice to say that this debacle took place over a period of three days. Each time I would have to wait: “Just wait 5 minutes”, I am told. This means 20 minutes at least in India. On most occasions in Airtel it was 35 minutes. By the third day I was near my end point! And then, perhaps it was genuine, perhaps a great set up, but a young salesman happens by. He sees my phone and comes over to introduce himself. He waxes on about what a great phone it is and how he has never seen one. “If we had these here, I could sell hundreds” he enthused. He looked at my phone as if it could get him to the moon and back. Then he thanked me and stepped back to his desk to confront the never-ending line of people wanting to buy a phone, change a plan, pay a bill, lodge a complaint and whatever else he did. It just impressed me that with this frustrating environment in which he works every day, he is still passionate. He loves what he does.
I have only ever really known coaching as a job. In fact it has never been a job. It is a part of my life, it is who I am. I had never really thought about it from a telephone salesman’s point-of-view, but this young guy was showing me that being passionate and loving your job applies to every occupation. OK so it was three days. They were trying. They were not succeeding but they were trying. So I decided on a different tack. I thanked them for all of their effort. I said I could see how hard they were working. I told them I would be so grateful because the ICL players could contact me if they needed to. And guess what? Within 2 hours, my phone was back on line. Also, a day later the Airtel representative rang me to check the phone was ok. So two lessons from this frustrating phase of my trip in India: i) you can make your job more interesting if you are interested and passionate about it and ii) you get further by paying compliments than venting frustration.
Our trip to Udaipur (in the state of Rajasthan) was delayed by a day. We had a few issues locking down a driver and accommodation. So on the Friday, we did all the touristy things in Ahmedabad. This included a visit to the Jain Hatheesingh Temple. It was made from marble in 1848 and is a beautiful temple in the middle of the city. We also paid a visit to Sabarmati Ashram, which was Mahatma Ghandi’s headquarters during India’s struggle for independence. Gandhi set out from here on his famous Salt March on 12 March 1930. It was a very interesting museum. I know that I have lot more to learn about Mahatma Gandhi. We spent the evening at the local markets shopping for bits and pieces to bring back home.
Saturday was a 5 hour trip to Udaipur. I read in one of the guide books that this city is called the “Venice of the east”. And that it is. It has a old world European feel to it. At the centre of the city is Lake Pichola which is surrounded by white buildings, a magnificent city palace and hills all around. In the centre of it all, is the Lake Palace (used in the Bond film, Octopussy). As luck would have it, we found ourselves some of the best accommodation you could imagine overlooking the lake, the Lake palace and the old city. Talk will not do it justice and I can only hope that some of the photos that I took can show partially how beautiful the city of Udaipur really is.
We stayed in Udaipur for two nights. Plenty of shopping in dinghy markets, eating Indian food, visiting Palaces. I even had a tour of the city on the back of a motor bike! Leroy had bought a painting and we needed to choose a frame. So, as could only happen in India, Leroy got on the back of one bike, and I on the other. It was a great experience and a terrific way to see the city at night. I am sure that Leroy’s frame will look good too! The place where Leroy bought his painting (and I bought some smaller items) was just opposite our hotel – SmartArts. The father is the master artist and his two sons – Nilesh and Manish (Mickey) – are following in his footsteps. If ever you go to Udaipur, be sure to find them. They are terrific people and very talented artists. Not only do they give you a great price for quality art, you might even get a late night motor bike tour thrown in!
Whilst we were away the finals of the ICL continues back in Ahmedabad. Hyderabad Heroes won a cliffhanger in the second game, thus forcing a third, and deciding final. This was held on Sunday night with the Lahore Badshahs winning by 8 wickets. It was a very impressive win by the team and sets a number of benchmarks for the competition going into the next series here in India in March 2009.
On Monday we headed back to our hotel in Ahmedabad. In a strange way, it is a bit like coming home. The hotel has become quite familiar – all the staff know us by name! We have another couple of days before the players get here – and then it is final preparations for the ICL World Series.