Tuesday, Nov 09, 2004
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This week marks a special time for our squad, giving each of us a chance to return home and reflect on the remarkable events of the past month. What I'm sure will make it special will be the chance to share those experiences with family and friends in the comfort of our own environment.
I know that each family of the players and support staff involved with the win will be very proud, just as I am of the whole group who helped us claim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. From the outset, it was a genuine team effort and there's no way that we would have achieved such a great triumph without each person's unshakeable commitment and desire to succeed.
From my perspective we were able to set a new benchmark on this tour. The planning and preparation were impeccable. With the exception of the final Test, which to say the least was played in abnormal conditions, so too was the execution.
As a group, we celebrated that achievement, but perhaps the biggest reward for us will be, when after a long, hard, slog that has been the past month, we return to the calmness of home and restore a sense of normality for a few days.
Whilst I was lucky enough to see my wife and kids following the second Test against India in Chennai, for many of the boys, they haven't seen their loved ones for close to three months after what has been a heavy period on the road for our Test and one-day teams.
Despite the plethora of rewards that come with being a professional cricketer, it's that time away from home that is certainly one of the real challenges for anyone involved with the game at the highest level support staff, match officials and media included.
However throughout my time with the Australian team, I have found that almost as big a challenge has been to try and do justice to the whole overseas experience when recounting a tour to people at home. It's a little bit like performing well on the field as a kid, but without your parents there to watch it. No matter how hard you try to describe it, words can't quite illustrate the moment.
What I'll be trying to explain to people is that India is a country like no other when it comes to sheer cricket fanaticism. Tomorrow, following the first night in my own bed, I'm sure I'll find it odd not to be signing autographs at the breakfast table or being phoned in my bedroom by fans just wanting to have a chat about the game. It's something that simply needs to be experienced to be believed, and is a must see for any cricket enthusiast.
Perhaps that fanaticism for the game was best summed up to me in Nagpur one night when I was having a quiet meal in a pleasant but very basic restaurant at the team hotel. Whilst reading through the menu, the waiter interjected and asked if I again wanted to order a mild Chicken Korma, rice and naan bread, with lemonade to wash it down? I replied quizzically: "Again? I haven't been to this restaurant since we arrived." The waiter then pulled out his note pad with my order from our stay at the same hotel during the 2001 tour, and sure enough, there it was. To say I was stunned would be an understatement.
But as is the world we live in, there isn't a great deal of time to reminisce, because as of next weekend our eyes will be focussed on another challenge New Zealand and soon enough, our Indian adventure will be a distant memory.
Although I have yet to think too deeply about that contest, I know that as a unit we have learned much over the past month which will allow us to take some genuine confidence into the first Test in Brisbane.
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