India 2001 | Our First Australian Cricket Tour Foray
**The following was our first ever 'postcard' on Waving The Flag, posted February 02, 2001. It has been mildly edited for mildly better clarity and 2023 SEO**
Six years into my global cricket touring, the prospect of venturing into the heart of India presented a challenge dwarfing even the fastest of bouncers.
This wasn't the typical jaunt with a handful of mates as every tour in the previous 6 years had been. A few mates had ballooned into a group of almost 100; a prospect that left me both awestruck and overwhelmed.
Thankfully I was not alone in my endeavour to help people travel the cricket world. My great mate Darren Moulds (he & I above), whom had travelled the cricket world since 1994, was there to help absorb everything uniquely "Indian"!
Commencing a website also on which to post daily tour updates and postcards, and from which to 'sell the dream' of cricket touring was equally overwhelming.
I'd never done anything like it. That said, so too had little others.
(When I look back to 2001, I was daily blogging & vlogging 5+ years before these words entered our social consciousness and habits)
Portraying India and Australian Cricket Touring for what it was, was not the easiest, even though one religiously posted daily updates for everyone back home.
Following some very generous 'free-publicity' across Australian media platforms through 1999 and 2000, selling India 2001 was easier than expected.
The surge in numbers however that came on the heels of personal travels, was nothing short or colossal.
Branding oneself in the cricket terraces as "Waving the Flag," (now touring as Australian Cricket Tours), was about to catapult my cricket adventures from a cosy refuge for a few cricket aficionados to a thrilling spectacle as once prepared to welcome 'customers' on my first Australian Cricket Tour.
The Indian Sojourn
As the Australian Cricket team geared up for their Indian expedition, the fervour among supporters rivalled that of an Ashes test match. The 'Last Frontier' of Australian cricket beckoned, promising a sea of fans in the stadiums, turning the upcoming matches in India into an exhilarating experience.
Abandoning the "turn up and see" approach, I took on the chosen responsibility of organising our game-watching experience. Pre-booking hotels and securing match tickets for every game before departing Australia, was in itself a departure from my usual cricket-travel modus operandi.
A Bed Awaits, a Wander Deferred
The change wasn't merely logistical; it signified a detachment from the ambiguity of navigating obscure midnight streets in search of a makeshift hotel.
This time, I embraced the comfort of a prearranged bed, sparing myself the ordeal of negotiating with questionable lodgings. And indeed questionable they were, with the focus on creating a budget cricket tour, based on my personal habits and experience of cricket travel, especially in India.
Creating a branded Australian Cricket Tour to India was a deliberate effort to ensure the advice I doled out to fellow Australian Cricket enthusiasts translated into an unforgettable experience everyone in the terraces.
Organised Chaos: The Art of Tour Planning
Amidst the chaotic buildup, my mind raced, questioning the accuracy of numbers and the alignment of schedules. Pre-booking 35 rooms in unseen Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and Chennai (formerly Madras) hotels marked a personal triumph, and the foundation for the meticulous planning that underpinned every tour that was to come.
I just didn't know it at the time.
Having a basic hotel in which to live was one thing, but the hours spent navigating the labyrinth of Indian Railways schedules, detailing every train to each game and a few tourist pit stops along the way for everyone, reflected a labour of love.
Although Indian Railways was optional for everyone, it was my making an Indian Cricket Tour all the more memorable.
The Fun and Headaches of Cricket Hospitality
As departure day from Melbourne loomed, a sense of achievement mingled with apprehension. Have I accounted for everyone (a number that was growing every day)? Did I get everyone's arrival dates right? These were myriad questions plaguing my thoughts.
Yet, amidst the chaos, there was a satisfaction derived from booking hotels across India for all matches including tour games, test matches, and ODI's, and compiling exhaustive the train schedules.
The fun and headaches intertwined, promised and indeed delivered a rollercoaster of an adventure, particularly when, in Kolkata, the hotel owner threw a curveball, asking, "What booking?"
That same question is asked near 25 years later.