It was at my Leaving Do last week (Well, one of them. The one at the Jalori. “How nice. Acclimatisation?”said I. “Sphincter Conditioning” came the retort.) when conversation turned to the nature of my travels. The real raison d’être, the sitting on my arse watching cricket bit.

“But surely, you can just sit at home watching it on the sofa instead. What’s the point going all that way?” At stumps on Day Two of the first England v India Test Match, I found myself wholly concurring with that statement.

But then after a soothing pot of Masala Chai (Hello Ravi! Hello Kamal!) I came to my senses. You don’t follow your team anywhere and expect to do well, well, I don’t. It’s everything that goes with it.

One of my most chastening moments as a Hatters fan, and this as an impressionable, gawky teenager, was a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Grimsby. We were terrible. Really bad. And it was cold. Bitter. And on certain days, when the wind is in the wrong direction, I swear I can still smell the disused haddock.
Yet on the way home, the detour to the fish & chip shop proved inspirational. Those fish & chips were probably the best I’ve ever tasted. It didn’t take away the bitter taste of defeat (that seems to be inbuilt in my taste buds ever since coming second in the egg & spoon race at lower school) but it certainly took the edge off it.

My fish and chips moment today came courtesy of my companions Peter & Toni. Peter’s mindless optimism and Toni’s deferential cheer. From RTW Tony and In The Know Toby (He’s found beer in Ahmedabad….) and their accompanying me in the Swanny chant. From Paul & Hannah, a delightful young couple who escape this morass of a match to head to Kerala. From hotel-mate Andy and his Northern stoicism. From Rohan, the helpful tuk-tuk co-driver and cricket student (Tonight’s homework; Which international team does Geraint Jones currently play for?).

To be here. The bigger picture.

Yes, England have made a right ol’ mess of this so far. Yes, I’ve come a long ol’ way to see this right ol’ mess.
However…. It’s not quite 7-1 at Grimsby yet.

Probably ‘4-1 at home to Portsmouth, despite leading, on my birthday, I was violently sick the next day after eating dodgy prawns’ territory but there is still hope.*

So, absolutely. I’m loving this. I’d much rather be here at the sharp end than on my sofa. And I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow and The Miracle of Motera…..

*Yes, yes. I know, it’s the hope that kills us. Hello Welsh Andy!