For their two-and-a-half month road trip, the longest away assignment in recent times, the Indians have landed in England with a jumbo tour party. Maybe, a bit too big.
During the first Test, at the Nottingham team hotel, 21 rooms were occupied by the non-playing members of this traveling group. Accompanying the 18-member squad, an unprecedentedly high number, are coaches, managers, logistics staff, helping hands, children and, for the first time, WAGs — including not just wives, but a girlfriend too.
But more about the ‘G’ in WAG soon.
Considering this is a five-match series squeezed into 42 days, most of the 15-member support staff are specialists to take care of exhausted bodies. Local hands have been hired to help the team’s regular ‘body caretakers’ Evan Speechly (physio), Ramesh Mane (masseur), and Amit Shah (sports masseur).
Ball thrower Raghavindra continues to travel with the Indian team in the post-Gary Kirsten era. Then, there are trainers, assistant coaches, a computer analyst, and Rahul Dravid, the team’s batting consultant. Plus, there is the team bus driver, luggage in-charge and security staff.
Among the family members of the cricketers on this tour are Murali Vijay’s wife Nikita and son Naveen. The team’s fielding coach had his wife, son and daughter at the team hotel at Nottingham. Cheteshwar Pujara is traveling with his wife, and so is Gautam Gambhir, who also has his three-month-old daughter with him.
In a departure from the past, Virat Kohli has been allowed to have girlfriend Anushka Sharma around. It was learnt that Kohli got the BCCI’s permission. A cricketer in the company of a Bollywood actress, as a rule, attracts an army of onlookers with autograph books and cameras. No wonder there is quite a crowd around this Indian team.