Finally arrive at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.
After nine hours in air to India, we find ourselves suddenly exposed to the overwhelming sights, startling smells and terrifying noises of Swanny eating a packet of twiglets whilst we wait at baggage claim. Thankfully on journey to hotel the natural hubbub of Indian urban traffic drowns out sound of Graeme trying to suck the taste of marmite from underneath his fingernails.
Reception at Hyderabad Travel Tavern overwhelming. So many smiling faces waiting for us. So many Indian supporters who’ve gone more than a fortnight without having an embarrassing defeat to argue over. So many fans who’ve been starved of cricket – bar the twice-a-day matches of the Champions League. You can see why ESPN wanted us to stop on route and play a quick game of tape ball. There’s clearly a huge audience for cricket out here, and even the 18-20 hours of daily coverage must leave a gap in the market for the sub-continental insomniac. Presumably that’s why the BCCI employ Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar to infiltrate the commentary box?
First press conference on Indian soil –although to be completely accurate we’re actually holding it on the earthenware mosaic floor of the hotel restaurant’s carvery annex.
Cap’n’Cook is making the point that I’m now England’s “leader of the attack”. It’s mainly a ceremonial position rather than an official title. So there’s no mention in the Queen’s birthday honours list or expectation I’ll be allowed to speak to the batsmen without raising my hand first. But it’s still the role that young English seamers aim for, the one that can take your career to where every bowler dreams of being – safely back home on the sofa, watching Dhoni take the rest of the England attack apart, whilst you continue collecting your central contract pay-packet. Isn’t that right Jimmy?