Job: Watching Cricket for work, vacation in free time..
It was a 24/7 job and along with it came 24/7 fun.
Legends at Le Meridien,Guyana - April 2002
It’s hard for me to recall those umpteen numbers of gladsome moments…and harder to put them all here…Nonetheless, here I attempt to present a few..
* Encounter with Brian Charles Lara : It was a gloomy afternoon in Georgetown, Guyana. This isn’t a great place to roam around much and one week in the place had cut us off from the outside world. It was such a delight that finally I had managed to get new Internet accounts for some of the players with laptops.
Now we were in touch with India..
I was just sitting in my room.
I get this phone : Rrinng ..rrringg” I rushed to pick it up not for any particular reason but simply to kill the monotony.
”Mr. Pal” ..a deep sounding voice at the other end asks me.
”Yes” I said, the West Indians had misspelt my second name as Pal in the check-in records and it stuck throughout the tour.
”Hi , this Brian Lara..Sassshin told me about saaam internet acccont you have” he spoke in the deep Caribbean accent.
My mind was gushing with excitement and it took me a few seconds to gather my guts and speak to him.
“Yesss..yes” I became calmer.. “I have this account which I bought yesterday from …”
“Can u do it for me please” he asked . “ I am in Room number… if you can come up in sometime, that’d be grattte ….I am going for a shower now”
I said yeah sure, I’ll come in 15 minutes. And kept the phone.
Wow !! That was my first time I spoke to the man, revered around the world and here he is in his home country asking me to set up his internet account !!
I promptly went later to his room that wasn’t very brightly lit and he was just in his track pants lying on his bed.
He said hello and asked me to take a seat…He then, turned the laptop towards me.
I couldn’t help noticing the shortcuts to so many sites of a kind…but then I knew they were generally handy on long tours away from home.
After a few minutes I was able to set it up for him which he tried to observe like a curious onlooker and was delighted once it was on !
He thanked me and said “See ya”
I almost fell on the stairs on my way down recounting what had happened!
* Mistaken Identities : This was Antigua when we were put up in one of the most scenic resorts (http://www.jollybeachresort.com) I had ever seen. You kinda wondered if you had come for a holiday or to play Test Cricket.
It was an all-inclusive resort confined by a boundary with about two-three private beaches. Everything was on the house. Food, drink and an amazing variety of water sports …(All of which I indulged in, all the while looking out for John Wright not seeing me doing that!!)
It was one evening when I was busy running around to get things in place for our team meeting. This was a part of my job to see everything is in order in the team room, basic amenities…the team to be seated properly to view the previous game on my computer. The Team Meeting was one instance when my work was in total focus and the entire team would be there to view videos and analyze the game.
Then I needed something from the housekeeping for which I went to look out for in the balcony. It was fading light and I couldn’t see much in the distance. The housekeeping staff had this uniform that they wore to distinguish themselves from the others easily. Since our team room was far away from the main office, which you had to walk around a pool and a garden, I was damn thrilled when I saw one of the housekeeping guys.
I immediately waved out to him from far and shouted “Hello…housekeeping !! Can you please come here??”
To my relief , he heard me and waved back in acknowledgement.
I rushed in again to put the lights on or something and came out again to see that he came correctly. He was coming closer and I was just about to call him again on top when I froze.
It was Carl Hooper, the Captain of the West Indies Cricket Team !!!
At that moment, I just wished I could vanish into thin air.
I just rushed back in to the room and didn’t come out for the next 10 minutes..
I assume Hoopsie might have just walked away.
We burst out laughing later when I narrated the incident to Bhajji, Nehra and Mongia.
Jolly Beach Resort, this was the place - April 2002
* “Bamboo”ing John Wright : In the team’s parlance, giving a “bamboo” means blasting someone. In the sense, you fire someone about something.
Well, not getting into things that should be known to the public, let me plainly say John Wright is very passionate about winning. He’s one of the best guys to be around with when the team had won and sadly the worst of guys when the team had lost or were losing. I had known this no sooner than I joined the team and had mentioned it a couple of times to the players as well.
They were but naturally like .. “Tell us something new !!”
When we played the Barbados Test, we were in dire straits fighting to save the match. As luck would have it, John’s laptop wasn’t starting up. There was some problem in his power adaptor and it wasn’t charging up after he had exhausted his battery power. As usual, John was like, “Sumeet, can you see what’s wrong with my computer???” His tone was harsh and that of someone asking about a mistake for which I was responsible.
This was when I was on my computer working on the match..I tried acting busy and said I’d look into it during the lunch break. When the break came up John was fuming in his seat at the proceedings of the match. I knew it wouldn’t be a prudent idea to talk to him about his laptop and quietly went to the lunch table. I was hungry too ! :-)
When I came back about 10 minutes before the game started, I was telling Srinath the way John went about asking personal work as if I was his secretary. Srinath was considerate and said not to take much from him. And if he did too much, give the famed Indian Cricket Team’s “Bamboo”.
I was happy and was preparing myself to a prospect of that. John was just coming close muttering some obscenities at things which we didn’t/didn’t want to know.
Suddenly, John: “Sumeet, what happ to my laptop?” The tone was the same. Srinath was trying hard to get closer to listen better. John persisted.
This was it, I thought. My fists were clenching. I burst out..“John, I am not paid to do your work here” I was looking straight into him. “If you have any personal work to do then don’t ask me to do it…” I continued. “If such things are there in the job, I don’t want to work with you anymore” John was flabbergasted.
Srinath was amused and smiling.
I was relieved and confident.
I had done it..I had “bambooed” John, the Coach of the Indian Cricket Team.
It became news quickly among the players and I gained a certain kind of notoriety in the team. I also remember that I started feeling more confident about my job.
John tried to scuttle my chances to come on the next tour….it still makes me wonder what I had done was right or not !
I went on the next tour anyways.
John smiling..you can safely assume that the team was doing well then - April 2002
The story ..err stories continue