Greetings from somewhere over the Indian Ocean. IPL 5 has just concluded and it has been a full on couple of weeks since my last note. Here is an idea of my itinerary since then….
- Hyderabad to Kolkata
- Kolkata to Hyderabad
- Hyderabad to Pune
- Pune to Bangalore
- Bangalore to Chennai
- Chennai to Dubai
- Dubai to Sydney
At these venues, I have umpired 8 matches including two semi finals, a play off for 3rd place and a final. The crowds have been excellent along with the cricket, while the umpiring has been of a very high standard from all the guys in very challenging conditions.
The weather in India has been extremely warm – take the last couple of days in Chennai where the minimum at night has been 38 degrees up to a maximum during the day of 41.
Some people think that the life of a cricket umpire is a pretty good one, with all the great travel, nice hotels and great places to visit. Well, please allow me to give you a little more insight into my last week of work, travel and sleep deprivation….
Having finished umpiring a match last Sunday in Hyderabad at around 8pm, I went back to the hotel and packed, ready to leave the hotel the following morning at 7.30am for a morning flight. We get into the Pune hotel around lunchtime, unpack and then off to the new ground for an inspection and pre game meeting. We have a match there on the Tuesday (an 8pm match – a semi final) that finishes just before midnight. We get back to the hotel around 1am and have to pack and check out at 4am to go to the airport for a 6am flight to Bangalore. We arrive at the new hotel around 9am and I unpack and organize my laundry, have breakfast and managed to get one hour of sleep before leaving for another match that day at 6pm from the hotel. Again the game finishes around midnight and we get back to the hotel around 1am then get up around 6am to pack and leave the hotel at 8am for a flight to Chennai. We arrive at lunchtime into the new hotel and unpack and do the ground inspection / meeting thing again ahead of the next match the following day. By this stage, I’m running on pure adrenaline and caffeine!
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some good times in between….
Firstly, Johan Cloete and I ran a competition on who could sign the most number of autographs at the airport without being confused with being one of the players. I lost this one, as during the trip I was mistaken for Brendan McCullum, Dale Steyn and Michael Clarke – my sincere apologies to those handsome players for damaging their reputations!
(Our autograph competition at Kolkata airport – Johan Cloete (AKA “Sandeep Mukherjee Jr” does the right thing for this young fan, but have a look at his father’s ears, who is standing behind him! I’m told that the true sign of old age is when you have more hair growing out of your ears, than that on your head!!)
The other competition was won by our security liaison officer, Himanshu, who took out the creative sandwich award at breakfast in Chennai, with this creation below…His reaction on his face after receiving the award is not from the anti-climax of there being no real prize associated with it, but rather the news of our departure times after the Final ….they being 4am, 5.30am and 7.30am, which basically means he does not sleep at all after the last match.
We had to find a way to make our routine breakfasts a little more interesting and this creation of white bread, scrambled egg, chicken sausages, bacon, hash brown and topped with cottage cheese and tomato sauce was the best. Not only that, but I have a picture of him actually eating it but have decided not to include it here in order to damage the minds of our children.
As I said earlier, the standard of cricket in these T20 matches has been very high and most of the matches have been very close. Chennai came from nowhere to make it into the final against 2nd place Kolkata. A full house and a balmy night were the scene for a great contest as Gambhir’s side took on Dhoni’s. It was an honour to be doing the final and I was joined by Billy Bowden, who seems very comfortable these days to be seeing his name up in lights…as per the photo below.
Billy’s antics never seem to surprise me these days – after being told where to collect the match ball from before the start, he seems astonished to find it after I lift the lid… (what was he expecting?)
Chennai batted first and faced the pace of Brett Lee first – a bit strange to be umpiring so far away from Australia and see Lee trying to remove a batsman like Mike Hussey.
Chennai batted extremely well and put a very competitive score of 190 on the board in the Final and Kolkata begun their chase poorly when Hilfenhaus bowled Gambhir for 2. However, their batsmen recovered to get them to only needing 8 runs off the last over which they did with a couple of balls to spare. A great game of cricket, and a fitting way for the tournament to end.
And that left Billy and me . . .
. . . very happy and satisfied!
Take care, Simon.