We flew out of Chandigarh bound for Ahmedabad via Mumbai – about a 3 hour flight to the south. I had myself prepared for this long and drawn out flight, when not long into the journey I realised that I had one of the best seats on the plane. You see, I was seated on the left hand side of the plane and had “lucked” a window seat. From my prestigious seat, I had a true birds eye view of the Himalayas. This majestic mountain range soared in to the sky, above the clouds and seemingly, level with us. In the sun, the peaks of this spectacular mountain range shimmered white, and stretched on for miles into the distance. I literally sat in my seat, glued to this magnificent view. It was an unexpected highlight for me.
In a way, I was glad I didn’t know that it was coming. I didn’t build it up out of expectation. I wasn’t disappointed because I didn’t get the seat I would have wanted. I didn’t have pre-conceived ideas. I wasn’t hyped with anticipation. It just happened. And sometimes, life is like that. I wonder, how many times do we miss opportunities because we are looking for something else? Even if that “something else” isn’t that good!
As a coach, I have told my athletes of the need to establish goals. This gives them – and myself as the coach – a direction. A purpose. A target. The only caution I give them is to not be so hung up on the end result that they miss out on enjoying the journey. As I fly past the Himalayas I know that if I was ever to climb a mountain even half that size, I would want to enjoy the journey not see it as something I had to endure in order to reach the summit (or my goal).
At the end of the day, when I look back on all of the many things I have been fortunate to do in my life, it is not the spectacular things that people might expect that I remember with the most fondness. It is not the Olympic Games. It is not the AFL Grand Finals. It is not the successes and the high life. It is the people I have met and the experiences that I have had along the way. I suppose what I am saying is that is not “things” that you remember. It is the experience. It is the people.
For me, being here in India and jetting about all over the country in pursuit of cricket, is another great opportunity. For it is here that I am having the experience of a life time. And I am meeting some amazing people and seeing things that I never would have imagined. Don’t worry, I have some very real ambitions going forward for Natlee, Callum, Caitlin and myself. But I also know the importance of living in the moment and not getting so caught up “in self” that I don’t even see the greatness (of the opportunity, of the person, of the experience) that is right in front of me.
When we landed in Mumbai, we had a 4 hour wait for our connecting flight. This was later extended to 5 hours – ‘we apologise for our late departure, which was caused by the late arrival of another aircraft, blah, blah, blah’ – it appears that all airlines read from the same “give the customer a lame excuse book.” The Dhaka Warriors spent the time shopping and whiling the hours in the airport lounge. Whilst in the lounge, the players were very pleased to see an old friend – John Gloster, originally from Australia. He had been their physiotherapist in Bangladesh several years ago, and has since been appointed as the head physiotherapist for the Indian Cricket Team. I was not surprised to see John greeted with genuine warmth and pleasure by each of the players. It has become apparent to me that once you are a member of the Bangladesh team (or in my case the Dhaka Warriors) you are forever linked.
When we finally did get away from Mumbai it was well after 8.30pm. We checked into our hotel in Ahmedabad at 11.30pm. It had been a 13 hour day of travelling for what was basically a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane. The players were exhausted. Lucky that the following day was a rest day!
The day consisted of optional sessions for all of the players. I went to the gym a few times but overall, it was a day to relax and catch up on work that needed to be done. I have brought with me one of the biggest lonely planet guides that you have ever seen. I have wondered a few times if it was actually worth it. On Wednesday however, the book came through! I looked up locations for dinner in Ahmedabad and one recommendation was for a place called Agashiye. The restaurant was in a restored mansion that was once owned by a wealthy textile merchant. It later became a restaurant and hotel, with perhaps its most famous guest being Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920’s. The restaurant/hotel covers an area of 40,000 square feet and is a two storey maze of corridors and stairways along with a huge terrace. It was on this terrace that we had our dinner. The menu changes every day and is totally vegetarian. We were given information sheets on etiquette of how to eat with your hands – this included only eating with your right hand, washing your hands before and after the meal and not using your napkin to wipe your hands on during the meal – only for drying after washing. The experience started with a waiter offering to wash our hands with a small jug and bowl. The food was fantastic and included many different small meals and breads. We finished up with coffee and ice cream. Overall, it was a great Indian experience and I am sure that I will be back here before we leave Ahmedabad.
We had training scheduled for 10am on Thursday morning. It was the standard training except for one notable exception: the players must have decided that I should get involved with the skills side of things! My first role was to lob the ball in for a slips drill; next was to do some out fielding (which nearly resulted in a shattered ankle – although that’s a bit of an exaggeration as it is ok 24 hours later!. Anyway, the key lesson there was that you should stop the ball with your hands not your feet! The last drill I was scheduled for has become my latest definition of insanity. Tapash Baishye wanted me to slip a keepers glove onto my left hand and stand about 10m behind a single stump. He was going to come in off his normal run up and bowl at his normal speed and attempt to hit the stump. My job was to catch the ball in a mitt placed on my non dominant hand. Add to this picture the fact that I have no cricket skills at all and the ball is going to be travelling at speeds in excess of 130km/h. I cannot believe that the glove actually got on my hand and I was positioned behind the lone stump before the voice of logic screamed (as opposed to spoke) to me.
The rest of the day was spent working individually with players and getting programs ready for each of them for when they return to Bangladesh.
Friday. Today is our final game of the series against Lahore Badshahs. If we win this game we will progress to the finals. Lose this game – and it may be all over. I would love to tell the players the story about the Spanish explorer Cortes. He invaded Spain in the early 1500’s. His men were concerned about the consequences of not winning the battle. Rather than give them a direct answer, he commanded them to burn their boats. In other words: there is no other option but to win. I would love to tell the Dhaka Warriors to “burn your boats boys!”, but it may be a little deep and in all likelihood get lost in translation.
Rather, I will stick to the quote of this tour so far, as told to me by Shariar Nafees: “Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty”. As the underdogs going into this, our final series game, I hope it is!
PS. A couple of the players told me to go to a web site that has been set up called the Dhaka Warriors Fan Club. It seems that the boys have quite a following already with over 6,500 members to that site alone. If you are interested in having a look go to: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhaka_Warriors