THE SCALE OF INDIA
If you’re ever in any doubt about why an Indian series is different, just take a look at your Twitter and Instagram accounts after a day of play. You will be tagged in literally thousands of posts discussing a wicket or a catch or a moment within the game. Some are encouraging, some not so much!
You can feel millions of eyeballs watching you, even when you’re playing in Australia. It creates a different dynamic from any other series in the world. There are a billion people all emotionally invested in the outcome of your series. It’s massive. There really is nothing like it.
India is unlike any place in the world I’ve been to. As cricketers, you’re playing in front of packed-out crowds all the time and the streets are lined with fans. Everyone loves cricket – whether you’re on their favourite team or their least favourite team, there’s a lot of respect and knowledge.
We all call Starcy ‘The Mop’ because we reckon he cleans up the tail after the rest of us have got through the top and middle-order.
Playing in the IPL has been a great privilege. You get to spend time in a team of mostly Indian players hearing their stories, learning about their culture and way of life. I remember playing with Kuldeep Yadav when I was at Kolkata. He was about 18 at the time. We had Brad Hogg in our side and he worked closely with Kuldeep.
I also played with Mohammed Shami at Delhi, as well as Rishabh Pant. You strike up lots of different relationships with players.
That’s the way of the cricket world now. You’re playing against people who’ve been your teammates through a T20 league or county cricket, or you’re mates with someone who has. It has brought teams closer together in terms of recognition, but I don’t think it has changed much in terms of the competitiveness on the field.
It’s one of the things I love about cricket. You can be mates and opponents. Once you cross the line, you’re not more friendly or more angry, you’re just competitive. I can’t wait to get this series started.