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An India Introduction

Blog Post # 1
Written: Feb 02, 2001
Edited For 2021 SEO Compliance

After 6-years watching Australian Cricket around the world, it was difficult travelling to India. For no more reason than embarking on an exercise that took my usual handful of mates (Darren, Brad, Cath, Bomber) in the terrace, closer to 60.

Australian Cricket Tours - Our Inaugural Australian Cricket Tour To India. 40 Australian Cricket Supporters Watching Australian Defeat India At Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Sitting on the embankments of the Basin Reserve in Wellington in March 2000, my mate Darren Moulds and I agreed that there needed to be a 'Budget Cricket Tour', oriented to 'frugal-minded' cricket followers like he and myself. As we ended another after-play Speight's Ale that night, 'Waving The Flag' was created.

With no understanding how this will change the way I follow cricket, after several token publicity features through the Australian Summer 2000, the response to my invitation to 'join me in India 2001' was enormous.

Starting with nothing but a 'hotmail' email address, I was overwhelmed by the interest in ‘Waving The Flag’ and the thought of my distant cricket world of independence became one of claustrophic excitement; an excitement similar to that of the Australia South Africa Semi-Final at the Cricket World Cup '99.

Australian Cricket Tours - Mark 'Buffy' Smith Reading The Newspaper In Mumbai, Announcing The Death Of The Great Australian Sir Donald Bradman 

Sifting through hundreds of emails, collecting a list of people wanting to join me in India, in one or all of Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai, I left Australia early February 2001 to meet near 60 fellow Australians across the 3 Test Series. It was incredible to know the support for the Australian Cricket Team in India 2001, compared with previous Cricket Tours to India, will be something more attune to an Ashes Test Cricket Tour of England.

As Steve Waugh and Co. embarked on what was regarded as Australian cricket’s ‘Last Frontier’ it was awesome to know there would be so many in the stadiums supporting them. On this tour, for the first time I put aside my 'turn up and see' approach to deal with the self-appointed responsibility of ensuring that all of those meeting me in India would in fact see the games together.

After all, I didn't know how to buy match tickets in India for 60 persons!

Australian Cricket Tours - Our First Adventure On Indian Railways In 2001, From Mumbai To Nagpur

With a few days alone (with Mark 'Buffy' Smith) in Mumbai to prepare, I found it hard to believe that firstly I had booked a hotel and secondly, sourced tickets for each game; something never done in 6-years of cricket travel.

Saying that, for the first time in 6 years it felt good knowing that I had a bed waiting and I didn't have to wander the streets at midnight in search of a hotel that may only be marginally better than the streetscape itself.

This tour is far more than having a hotel though. It is ensuring that the help offered to those wanting to follow Australian Cricket with us was encouragment to not only unite in the terraces, but have a great time and importantly tour again. I am sure they will, or at least hope.

Australian Cricket Tours - Eden Gardens On Fire As India Fights Back To Defeat Australia In The 2nd Test, Calcutta

Though confident the tour will be a wonderful experience for many, my mind was racing a million miles an hour up to the day of departure. Have I got correct numbers? Did he say he’d arrive the day before or the day after the test? Was that Calcutta or Chennai?

I have no doubt that many Cricket Tour Operators ask many questions before every tour and though this tour is just a learning experience that people are not paying for (this was 'invitation only') I will get better with every Australian Cricket Tour that follows.

After the 1st Test in Mumbai, I collected names of those coming to the 2nd & 3rd Tests. There was a tremendous sense of achievement putting the phone down having booked 40+ beds in an unseen hotel in Calcutta and Chennai just as one example. (Hindsight says I wish I'd seen them!!)

Australian Cricket Tours - The Disappointment Losing The 3rd Test In Chennai And Border Gavaskar Trophy, Shows On The Faces Of Bomber (left), Nifty (middle), and Myself Luke 'Sparrow' Gillian

Hours spent trawling the internet for Indian Railways train schedules, collecting the information for every train to every game, including tour games, and a few tourist sights along the way is another.

It didn’t have to be done because all I promised was match tickets. This was an independent tour for all who wanted my help. Anyone coming to India who asked for advice, I answered. That’s what it came down to and I had a mountain of fun and headaches doing it. Headaches I am sure will only continue when we get to Calcutta and the hotel owner asks, "What booking?

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