Game day arrived. Following a team breakfast, the coach (Balwinder Singh Sandhu) called a team meeting. He outlined his strategy for the upcoming game and what he required of each of the players during the game. The meeting went for about 40 minutes.
Following this we had a team activation session which consisted of a walk and stretch, some shoulder exercises using rubber therabands and a player only talk with the team captain, Habib Ul Bashir. With all of the drama in getting the urine containers, I had also tested all players hydration status by the time the team meeting came around. It was a bit of a challenge, but I came up with a way of explaining to the playing group the importance of proper hydration before games/training.
In short, I told them that if they were 2% dehydrated, that this would have up to a 5% decrement on their performance – a finding which incidentally came from a hydration study done on cricket. Who would want to give their competitor a 5% advantage in a match when to level the playing field all you have to do is hydrate! I had got a large rope from the swimming pool and placed in the shape of a circle on the hotel’s lawn where I had the players stretching and talking. I indicated to them that the circle represented one of billions of cells in the body. When we are hydrated, fluid flows through the cell and any nutrients such as carbohydrates that may be needed are taken up by the cell. When we are dehydrated however, the cell shrinks – I made the rope circle smaller – and becomes less permeable. To highlight the point I “became” carbohydrate trying to get into this rope cell! Whether they got it or not, I am sure that they are beginning to realise that the are going to have to think laterally with me around! I would say it is probably a first though – a cell physiology lecture, done on a hotel lawn,in English to predominantly non English speaking cricket players. Anyway, if it helps one player to understand how to improve his cricket, it will have been worth it.
One of the hardest things to communicate is in regard to nutrition. What we in Australia, would consider healthy pre game nutrition basically does not exist here. Fat, oil and heavy stodgy foods are the main staples – before, during and after training and games. When we arrived at the ground for the game, the first thing I did was go to check on the food choice, preparation standard, storing procedures and their ability to keep the food hot. This is all important because if the food drops too much n temperature, food poisoning becomes very common.
With the help of our team physio Leroy, we were able to get a load of pasta prepared for the game along with a preparation of ‘dry’ (i.e. no oil) naan bread. I then went along each of the dishes that they had prepared for us and put a sticker on what he Warriors could eat and which ones that they were not to touch. Even with this system in place, I had to stand by like a vigilante to ensure they didn’t slip in a piece of oil laden bread or chicken with some cream based sauce. It was interesting when the other team came in to eat that they went straight for he pasta as well. Who knows, we might just revolutionise attitudes to pre game nutrition here over the next 10 years!
The game itself was really good. Great atmosphere around the ground ad just a beautiful night to play any sport. Everything was going like clockwork with the warm up, everyone happy and focused – when I felt te first spots of rain. At first I thought it might have been the flock of birds hovering over the stadium, but then the heavens opened! We had just finished our warm up and here we were scurrying for the cover of the dressing rooms. It poured for a good 8 – 10 minutes. I was beginning to think that this was going to be an anti climax for my first Indian Cricket League (ICL) match, as the games may be cancelled in the event of rain. And then, just as quickly as it had started, it stopped. The game would go ahead as planned.
The Warriors won the toss and elected to bat. They tell me that if you win the toss 90% of the time you elect to bat. In the event of choosing to bowl and thereby making up the other 10% of the equation, you usually regret the decision and wish that you had chosen to bat! In other words, it appears that you not so much win the toss but you win the right to bat first.
I kept a running stat sheet on our progress for the overs and this enabled me to see how we were going over the course of the game. It also enabled me to directly compare the other sides progress. I knew we were in a bit of trouble when by their second over they were 26 runs ahead of us at that same stage. Fortunately, the Warriors were able to pull them back but it was too big gap to bridge. We lost the game.
Immediately after the game we did our recovery and headed back to the hotel. The next day saw a further recovery session and a team meeting to review the match. I also took the opportunity to do some extra fitness work with two of the players that had not participated in the match the night before. I think that the training sessions are an even bigger incentive to be selected! I had them in the gym first, followed by a stair session in the hotel gardens, followed by shuttle runs, agility and short intervals. The session ended where it began with a circuit in the gym. The players found it pretty hard with at least one of them calling to his pet “Yurk”, which he had apparently lost in the garden!
The rest of the day was free for players and staff and gave me my first real opportunity to have a look around. One of the players Sharriar Nafees offered to take myself and Leroy shopping with he and his wife. We ended up in this market which was unlike any I had ever been in. If I had have just been plonked there I could have been anywhere in the middle east. There were mosques, minarets, prayer rugs for sale, traffic like you would not believe and people, people and more people!
When we left the hotel, I made sure I had money. I put in 1,000 rupees. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it did to me at the time too. Once at the markets, I did my maths and realised I had the grand some of $26 for my shopping extravaganza! So what would any average Australian think? A- T – M. Should be easy….is there an ATM nearby?
It is probably the dumbest thought, let alone question, that I have asked for a long time. I think they thought ATM stood for A Total Moron. As if they would have that in this market. So I bumbled along with my cricket player guide and the physio, not really able to do too much on my first outing but look. Even in India, $26 can only get you so far.
We ended catching an autorickshaw to a fairly large shopping mall. Again no ATM, but they did take American Express! I didn’t want to buy anything anyway – but it is still nice to know that you can if you choose to.
Later that evening I went out for dinner and lashed out on a steak and vegetables. I am getting a bit more adventurous by the day. When I read that the steak came on a sizzling hot plate I thought: “Go for it! The little buggers couldn’t survive on a hot plate!”. And I was right. So far I have had no trouble but I am still relatively cautious with food choices. No ice. Only bottled water. No salads – as they have been washed in water. Only eat hot food, preferably just made. So after about 10 days I think the score now would be Quinn 30. Bacteria 0. But lets face it, they only have to score once and it is going to be an unforgettable performance! Bring on tomorrow!
Monday saw the team having to travel more than 90 minutes to our training venue called Lahaii resort. It is such a nice place to train – but the drive to get here is an adventure in itself. Today’s driver was clearly a frustrated F1 driver. I lost count of the near misses and the swerving motion of the bus reminded me of the time I broke down in a boat on my way out to see the Great Barrier Reef. We were all over the place and pity the poor rickshaw, pedestrian or stray cat that got in our way….
Training was quite good and we followed this up with a pool recovery session. I found that the place also had water slides so the players entertained themselves there for a while too. After lunch at the resort, I was more than pleased when the coach asked me to come back in the ICL car to our hotel. I certainly didn’t mind not getting back into the “F1 bus”.
Once back at the hotel, it was time to start getting ready for our gym session. Each of the players has his own strength program. The players are divided into two groups. The session went well but it is very apparent that conditioning Australian style is very different to that of the sub continent. Even things like skipping ropes, medicine balls and swiss balls are hard to come by. You certainly have to be creative and think on your feet to adapt to the environment and I have had plenty of practice with that over the years. The session wasn’t exactly as planned but the players got as much as possible from it.
After a very hectic week or so, I am pleased when the last of the players leaves the gym. I decided to head back to my room. I am having room service. I am watching a movie on my computer. I am switching off.
The pace of everything is frantic. It never seems to stop. Just when you think a job has finished the next one is at your feet needing immediate attention. And with all of that, I couldn’t be happier. We have another game coming up on Wednesday against the Hyderabad Heroes – the home team. Game two and hopefully our first win.
For me, I am continuing to enjoy the challenge and working with the group that I have been given. They are very eager to learn and improve. I am getting to find my feet here now and have been asked to go on the Anti Doping Board for the ICL. I have ajusted to the time zone and hold less fears about the food.
Just before I left home to come to India I went to visit Tony Bongiorno. Tony is a financial advisor in Melbourne at Bongiorno’s with his brother Joe . I often go to Tony for advice on matters financial and otherwise. During my last visit to Tony he told me that everyone has to find their “Unique Ability” He went on to explain that this unique ability was made up of 5 things:
1. Love what you do
2. Become better and better at what you do
3. Get a buzz out of what you do
4. People acknowledge what you do
5. You feel no tiredness doing what you do.
He is a wise man Tony. I wasn’t sure at the time exactly what he meant. But as I type up this blog for my website, I know now, that here in India, I am exercising my unique ability. It is not about what I do. It is who I am. I may not be able to find an ATM in an Indian market, but I have found something a lot more important than that!