Greetings from somewhere over the Indian Ocean in the fantastic Emirates Airlines A380 en route to Australia. It’s been a full on couple of weeks since my last email and it is just so nice to be able to relax and start to have a break with the family for the school holidays.
The Elite Panel Umpires and Referees workshop in Dubai was two days of intense topics, discussion, debate and learning. As you can imagine, with a group of over 20 match officials in the one place, there is much professional debate about how to go about things in the game of cricket. What was really pleasing about this gathering was the sharing of experiences and ideas about performance improvement.
This was also our last workshop with our office support guru, Brent Silva, who has accepted a position as General Manager of Rugby League Victoria. Brent has been with us for a couple of years and has done a great job in our administration and logistics – he will be missed and we wish him every success.
Straight off to Chennai from Dubai for the IPL, edition 5. Great to be back in India and part of an event that often brings the best of the best together in the T20 format. A place where entertainment, music, dance, loud noise and innovating cricket meet. Day one in Chennai began with a series of meetings with the match officials and then the 9 franchise Captains and ended with the function to launch the event. It was a big night as the local Bollywood stars sang and danced with plenty of colour and body shaking music. No, it was not their bodies shaking (well, it was), but ours did as well as the music was that loud you could feel the thumps of the speakers go right through you.
I was attending the launch with about 14 of the local match officials who were in awe of some of their biggest stars – the “Big B”, Pryanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Kareena Kapur and many others. They dazzled with the dancers for a couple of hours until Katy Perry hit the stage – something we had been waiting for all night. Katy got through her first song and then the local umps said “it’s time to go” – what!? I missed out on a great 45min package of Katy Perry singing her finest all because my team did not want to get stuck in traffic. Ah well, some sleep was needed anyway.
The next day saw me on field in the opening 8pm match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians – MS Dhoni up against Tendulkar. Mumbai played the better in the hot and humid conditions and we got back to the hotel around 1am. Another day, another flight (this time to Mumbai) and another hotel.
The next game was Mumbai up against their next door rivals, the Pune Warriors led by former India Captain, Sourav Ganguly. It was a packed house at Wankhede Stadium and we could not hear a thing out on the ground. Communication was close to impossible as the home team went down to Pune – Sachin was not playing due to injury and they really missed his batting ability.
As I said, another day, another flight and another hotel – this time, off to Pune where the Punjab Kings XI, captained by Adam Gilchrist were going to play. A brand new stadium in Pune built by the owner of the Pune Warriors franchise and a lot of work to get it ready in time. A full house of around 40000 spectators, loud music, fireworks and boundary dancers – plus 40 overs of cricket. It’s an interesting game when you start at 8pm – how to fill in the day while remaining focused and prepared is a challenge. Today was more challenging, as not only did I need to officiate between 8pm and 11.30pm, but also then drive from Pune to Mumbai (about 200km) straight after the match to catch my flight to Dubai departing at 4.30am. We certainly needed the police escort to get out of the ground and onto the highway and the driver did a great job to get through the traffic to the airport on time. Close to 24hrs with no sleep and on to EK501 to Dubai. I don’t remember much of the flight!
Well, back to Australia now for a couple of weeks and holidays with the family before then heading back to India for the last 4 weeks of the IPL 76 match tournament. The last month has been full on with coaching, training and umpiring, so it will be nice to have some time away from that and recharge.
Take care and best wishes,