| From the flag of Ryan Moore (Flagger since 2008) |
Arriving in Bengaluru airport at 2am on a wet Indian night, starting a tour with and run by people I've never met before... fair to say I'd know more about what to expect from a Shaun Tait delivery than what the next few weeks with Waving The Flag was to bring. In the end you couldn't have asked for a better crew, a better leader, a better country to visit, a better tour (actually, delete that last one, forgot we went down)...
The best part? Hard to gauge. The leader? I think the evidence is in the fact that I was only too keen to catch up and sit with Luke (aka Sparrow) at the first day of the following Brisbane test. It's more like a mate showing you around overseas than a tour operator.
It's also worth pointing out that Luke's there as much as a avid fan as he is as a tour leader, a claim other tour operators wouldn't be able to make without their nose growing. The crew? Unknowns quickly becoming lifelong friends... Bumble, Pete & Mel, Wiz, Sara and the rest of the regulars, Matt, Mike, Banksy, Jezza, Remy and the fellow first-time flaggers, all people you're keen to catch up at the next possible opportunty.
The activities? The hilarious rickshaw rallies organised by Pete & Mel, the daily sweeps run by the actuarial Wiz with his love of facts and figures which make every last session rivetting, the regular nightly get-togethers at local watering holes, or perhaps the combative trivia nights are competing for the title. Perhaps the cricket, watched from the best seats in the stadium - to be in a foreign stadium and to sit and interract with the locals while being right on top of the action is an opportunity in life that you just can't miss.
The food and drink? Tasting the best that India has to offer - butter chickens, chicken biryanis, Kingfishers and the legendary Old Monk. Or perhaps the accomodation, terrific value places in central locations that allowed us to walk outside the front door and immediately take in the fascinating Indian culture.
All this at the best prices in the market. Luke and the Waving The Flag crew can't be recommended highly enough when it comes to enjoying the experience of watching the best that cricket has to offer overseas.
Thanks Sparrow, see you next time Ricky and the boys take the last plane out of Sydney!