"Look at Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting", "Look at their killer instincts, attitude", "Try to imitate them". These are some of the few lines heard by every Indian Cricketer who started playing cricket in the early 2000s.
As an individual born and brought up in Mumbai, cricket obviously runs through my veins. I had a better chance of missing a breaking news about a politician stirring up a controversy, than missing Sachin Tendulkar walk to the pitch and score a sublime ton. It may surprise many that few coaches ever told us to look at him, or Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly as examples.
Bitter as it may sound, that's the truth. But the attitude with which the Australians play their cricket can be hardly compared with which we, as Indians and cricket crazy nation, approach the sport.
Playing cricket in Mumbai since the age of nine was really all about wearing that lion's crest on the chest in the Ranji Trophy and wearing that India Cap one day. But I can say I did not work hard for that. Now at the age of 21, I decided to make a move of studying abroad as a Sports Management Student and what better place to study sports than the sports capital of the world itself, Melbourne.
But you cannot keep an Indian away from cricket for too long, I started playing for a local club Macleod Cricket Club. After experiencing the first few matches of the league, I suddenly started thinking about those coaches back in Mumbai and their words about Australian cricketers.
The difference in the way cricket is played is enormous. Being a Mumbaikar, experiencing two different cultures for the same sport I found it hard settling in as rightly shown by my performance in the first season. But the biggest difference being in the attitude. The team is the top priority for each and every member of the team..
Playing in a Mumbai Club, one is rarely encouraged to think about the team, although everyone says team comes first, we all know what everyone ultimately wants. Yes, even here everyone wants that Baggy Green, but not by stepping on someone else's neck.
Then comes the parenting. If you ask any set of parents in India as to why they send their child to play cricket, their answer would be, “Obviously, so they can play for India one day”. But if you throw the same question to Aussie parents, their answer would be, "Oh! Just because he enjoys and loves the game".
The Pressure to do well right from the moment you start holding the bat is something everyone in India has experienced at some point. Having said that, there are some positives of playing in Mumbai. You can play any type of spin that is thrown your way. And you can also deal with the sledging that the bowlers in Australia constantly throw at you. In India the on-field rivalry extends beyond the field too. But this is the first time I experienced sledging in Australia, we all had a beer together after the game and all was forgotten.
So as someone coming from Mumbai, yes it is hard to adapt to the nature of Aussie cricket, but once you do that, you will definitely have a good time.