Well, glorious uncertainty or not, our final series game was quite clear. The Lahore Badshahs were far too good on the night, beating the Dhaka Warriors by 5 wickets. Even the slim chance the following night that Lahore would be beaten by Chennai, thus allowing Dhaka to go into the finals on percentage, proved very optimistic. Lahore beat Chennai by an even greater margin (6 wickets) than when they played Dhaka.

For the Warriors, the season has come to a close. 4 wins and 4 losses. Not that it is anything to get too excited about, but I am told that this is the best result for a team from Bangladesh. Ever.

When the game ended the players were very disappointed that the Indian Cricket League (ICL) series had come to an end, and they had fallen just short of a berth in the finals. With the slim chance that participation was still possible, all of the players had to go through a recovery session as per normal the following day. In addition to the recovery I also had three players (those that didn’t play) doing some extra training.

The “extras sessions” have been pretty challenging for the players. For this session, I devised a circuit as space was at a premium at the training/competition ground. The session started with sprints over 40m and then moved to timed agility; shuttle runs; stair sprints and a sustained 90 second effort. After a rest of 4 minutes this repeated, a total of four times.

Farhad Reza leads an 'extras session'

Farhad Reza leads an

People may ask (and did before I left Australia!), ‘what would you know about cricket?’ The truth is I could sum that up pretty quickly! However, I am not here to teach these players how to play cricket. I am here to improve their fitness -elements such as speed, agility, strength, nutrition and recovery. In fact, the game of 20/20 cricket is a game of explosive running, sudden change of direction, repeat efforts and power. Add to this the fact that you may play 3+ games within a week and other factors such as load monitoring, recovery, hydration and nutrition all become considerable requirements.

At the time of the recovery session, we had to take the position that we may still be playing a final. As such, after the session preparations were in hand for a skill session in the nets for the following day. The remainder of the day was free for all players and staff. I found myself travelling about 30 minutes from the hotel to a local strip of shopping malls.

When the car stopped outside the massive shopping area I was a bit surprised really. It looked like any shopping mall – Highpoint or Chadstone. Other than the congested road with the odd camel or donkey going by, I could have been just about anywhere in Australia. Inside the mall, it was a cavern of space complete with shiny tiled floors and music from the “unending elevator tunes” series. And of course there were shops. I found one that I liked – a bookshop. Books are incredibly cheap here – think about 20% of the cost of the same book in Australia. There is also a different market of books, so it makes for an interesting time browsing through a shop.

But as for the rest of the shops – well. Not for me. It is as if they have got the concept of the shopping mall quiet well. But the application of that concept is a bit left of centre really. Not that I wanted anything anyway. And besides it was a nice change to wander around a shopping centre as opposed to an outdoor market or roadside vendor.

Sunday arrived and the Warriors had a light skills session in preparation for a possible finals appearance. It was all hinging on the Lahore Badshahs being well beaten by Chennai in what was the final series game of this ICL season. As I said earlier in this blog, Lahore ended up defeating Chennai by an even greater margin than when the beat the Dhaka Warriors. Their win was by 6 wickets and as such, they advanced into the finals – along with Chennai Superstars, Hyderabad Heroes and Kolkata Tigers.

Monjural Islam recovers

Monjural Islam recovers

As for the Dhaka Warriors, that is the end of the season. The next series gets underway in March 2009. We are confident that given all that we have learned in this, our first experience of playing 20/20 in the ICL competition, we will be able to improve and make the finals in the next series.

Our attention now turns to the ICL World Series. The Dhaka Warriors become Bangladesh. The Lahore Badshahs pretty much become Pakistan. Then a team is made up from the best Indian players in the ICL to form India and another from the ‘best of the rest’ to form a World team. This competition starts in about 2 weeks and culminates with a final game at the end of November.

The players from Bangladesh have been given leave to go home for the best part of a week. Staff can go home too – unless of course you come from outside the subcontinent which includes the entire medical and fitness staff. We are here in Ahmedabad pretty much until the players return. I created training programs for the players to do whilst away and took the whole group through a final weights session before they left the hotel.

So it is quiet here in the hotel now. Nothing has to be done. I can sleep in and go at my own pace. I have been doing programs for when the whole series is over. Writing up reports. Doing some personal work for my ‘upcoming business venture’ in Melbourne. And I have read a couple of those inexpensive books from the mall and watched the odd movie on HBO. The only English movie I have seen in the cinemas here is the new James Bond Movie, “Quantum of Solace”. We all went to that and enjoyed the bit of escapism.

The players from other teams whom will not be in the finals have all gone now and the hotel is a lot quieter overall. You notice it mainly at meal times. A few new faces are appearing as the competition moves towards the World Series. One of those was a face very familiar to me – Julia Russell. Julia is linking up with the World Team and has just finished work with the Australian Cricket Team as a massage therapist. Of course, she has been in India for the test series of Australia vs. India.

I have known Julia for more than 15 years, having coached her for athletics when I lived in Tasmania. In fact, Julia is a very good friend of my wife, Natlee. She has not changed a bit and is still the relaxed, friendly, welcoming, smiling girl that she has always been. Fancy having to come all the way to India to reunite with Julia!

Julia also came with ideas that we should make the most of being here in Ahmedabad. I had been pretty much resigned to spending a quiet week here. However, Julia had done a bit of homework and didn’t need to take too much time to convince us that we should arrange a driver to take us north to the state of Rajasthan. We are going to visit the city of Udaipur which is famous for a beautiful Lake Palace. If you are a James Bond fan, you may remember that this palace was used in the film, “Octopussy”. In all, there will be 6 of us going – Julia and her boyfriend, Jared; Mitchell Sturt (massage) ; Leroy Lobo (physiotherapist); Dhiman Ghosh (the only Dhaka Warrior to stay here) and myself. We are going to head off on Friday morning.

Tonight is to be the first of the finals of the ICL series (it is a best of three format). It is between the Lahore Badshahs and the Hyderabad Heroes. We are going to this game too. I don’t really care who wins – I suppose if Lahore get over the line we can always look back and say that we were knocked out of contention by the team that eventually won the competition.

And that pretty much sums up the past few days. If you have been reading these blogs over the past month or so, you would know that I started a different section under “Lessons from India”. I have had not so much a lesson, as a very important reminder in the past week. If you are interested, go to “Lessons from India” and look for the tab to take you to “Living in a Bubble”. No matter where you live or what you do, it is a reminder I believe we all should heed.