For what was supposed to be a day off, the team meeting was a little tense this morning. Half way through a lecture about what happened last night, Mr Darcy, wearing tell-tale sunglasses, told Coach he thought “curfew” was a migratory bird. Not a good move when it’s a certainty that one of the quicks is going to be dropped to make way for Rabbit or Gipper for the second test. “Unless the groundsman produces a F-ing greentop!” yelled the Coach. The moment of silence that followed was broken by someone up the back whispering “I’ll ring Sunil to see what odds I can get on that.”
Head of Security took centre stage and gave us a full briefing about procedures while travelling to and staying in Hyderabad for the next Test. It was all rather sobering, not to mention comprehensive. After an hour and half, most were nodding or snoring deeply. His parting words were: “Lads, just remember. Indians love their cricket, which mean they love you. Stay alert!”
It seems that the exact time that we’re going to head north is going to be kept secret until the very last minute. Apart from the request to carry our team-issued secure mobile phones at all times, we were given two very unpopular instructions, and third made unpopular in the manner of its execution:
1) Pack up your rooms as if you’re about to leave, and
2) Don’t be more than 30 minutes from the hotel at any time.
Plopper seemed very relaxed about this at the time. It was only later that he found out that most of his kit did not comply with instruction 2).
3) Sponsorship duties in the Hotel lobby. Today, this meant hanging around for yet another hour, signing memorabilia for the Indian market. The Head of Sponsorship takes this very seriously, making sure we sit in line, in order of heigh,t and sign only our own name. Misbehaving knuckles are punished with a whack from a little signature bat. A touch draconian perhaps, but fair enough after what happened on a recent tour when someone signed all 100 editions of a special comemmorative team bat with the name of a player who had to leave the tour to deal with some “personal and private issues.”
We dispursed for a dull day moping around the hotel. Most of the lads used the time to catch up on media commitments and social media engagement. I’m not sure what was in the video that Puff tried to upload to YouTube, but he kept the hotel wifi locked up for hours.