Bowling Through India
Bowling Through India
FIVE IN A BILLION
Most men, when away from chores and loved ones, choose to fish or golf. A jaunt that typically culminates in late night drinking sessions and regret, the only proof they were away at all, a hangover the size of Texas and a similarly hefty credit card bill.
While these trips are a great way to clear the cobwebs, sometimes what a bloke really needs is a shock to the system. A comfort zone upheaval. A new battery instead of a recharge. A change instead of a holiday.
Such a plan was currently being discussed by the Black Craps, a team of backyard cricketers, as they munched on stale buns and told lies on a flight from Auckland to Singapore, and ultimately Kolkata. Actually, that's not entirely true: three of the Black Craps - those who could only afford economy - were consuming the buns. The other two, already having created a rift in the team, opted for Business Class, quaffing champagne and perving at air hosties. Even so, you'd think the trio in Economy would be quietly respectful of their wealthier, better dressed, 'served before cattle-class' counterparts. That would have been the right thing to do. That would have been dignified, regal, and admirable. Sadly, however, that wasn't the case at all.
We were blokes. And we were jealous.
We took the piss out of them for the whole trip.
Speaking of the trip, this was the goal: to play backyard cricket with Indians in their own backyard. Every effort would be made to play by their rules, unless we happened to be losing. In our gear bag were five white knitted vests, twenty Auckland Aces cricket caps (for gifts) and an official score book. We carried no bats or balls, trusting a cricket crazy nation like India to supply us with the most rudimentary equipment (mostly to accommodate our skill level.) And this was the team:
JUSTIN BROWN - ECONOMY
The other Black Craps will be upset I'm first on the list, but I'm the writer and there's little they can do about it. Much to my team's disgust, I was carrying an injury into the series. Three weeks before departure, I dropped a laptop on my bare left foot at 4.45am. It fell from waist height directly onto my big toe nail, acting a little like a blunt guillotine. Choice words were chosen.
I'm also a breakfast radio host, but don't hold that against me. And I've written a few books. More interestingly, for this trip in any case, I'm a retired opening batsman for the Horowhenua 3 rd XI and an intercontinental sleepwalker.
JOHN BOUGEN - BUSINESS CLASS
Businessman, farmer, photographer and author of, among other books, Absolutely Outrageous Adventure, Made in Morocco , Tea in the Medina , and My Dream . He's also a world-record holder, having travelled to the most countries in the least amount of time - 191 nations in 167 days.
John sat in Business Class, but in all fairness, he deserved to: he's made his money and enjoys the finer things in life. He once said, 'When you get on a plane, never turn right.' It was John who I stupidly mentioned this idea over drinks one winter's evening. One thing about John: he never turns down a challenge - or a good time, which is probably why he's spent the past few years working on a farm in the South Island's high country.
BRENDON O'HAGAN - ECONOMY
Brendon is the poor bugger who took 14,000 photos while the rest of us smacked sixes over cow pats and almost got arrested in Mumbai. He has been a professional photographer (not bail bondsman) for fifteen years, although this was to be the first time away from his young family. This became quite obvious as he crammed in as many movies as possible on the first leg of the flight.
Brendon has taken photos of som