Former Indian pacer L. Balaji says superstars too crave for some ‘normal time’.
On home ground, Indian cricketers hardly get any ‘normal’ time — the ubiquitous Indian fan, with a handy camera or cell phone is a tireless hunter of selfies with the sportstars. Foreign tours, like the current South Africa series, or in Australia and the likes, are a dream for the cricket stars who can enjoy walking around and go on shopping expeditions without being pestered for autographs or pictures.
The early images coming out of Cape Town, ahead of the first Test are proof of how much the Indians have been enjoying living lives away from hordes of fans, letting their hair down. The disparity between their home and away records may have led to Team India being dubbed “tigers at home and lambs abroad”, but the criticism has never stopped the cricketers from relishing the opportunity to tour.
After a long and demanding home stretch, Virat Kohli and Co. seem to be loving their solitude in South Africa, away from the media glare and selfie-hunting fans.As photographs of Kohli’s ‘common-man-who-loves-discount-shopping’ avatar and his impromptu dance with Shikhar Dhawan on the streets of Cape Town went viral on social media, they reminded one of how much the superstar cricketer misses the life of an ordinary citizen.
It’s not every day that Kohli can roam the streets or make his way into a supermarket, with no one to follow him. During the Champions Trophy in England last year, Kohli himself declared that he loved playing in other countries. “There’s so much attention on you back home that I love travelling away and playing in other countries around the world. I love just spending some normal time, which I’m not particularly able to do back home,” Kohli had said.
Last year in London, when he was still the cricketing world’s most eligible bachelor, Kohli spent the evenings going on long walks alone. And now that he is married, he seems to be using the opportunity in South Africa to fulfil his dutiful hours as a husband and taking wife Anushka Sharma shopping.
Dinesh Karthik, who will be joining the India squad in South Africa for the limited-over series in February, says players look forward to away tours as it provides more me-time. “You definitely need this time for relaxation especially after a long domestic season. That’s why most of the players tend to enjoy touring,” adds Karthik.
Even though the number of travelling mediapersons for away matches has increased gradually over the years, the media and fan focus is a lot less than what they get at home.
Former Indian pacer L. Balaji says superstars too crave for some ‘normal time’. “Celebrities tend to express their individuality away from the frenzy. In Australia, during my first long tour as a 20-year-old, I saw how Sachin enjoyed walking on the streets. He was a lot more relaxed and it helped him unwind between matches. The entire team enjoyed eating out in restaurants and spending time together in public places,” Balaji recalls of India’s 2004 tour Down Under.