October 2009
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RMJ: The dreaded Delhi Belly

October 12th, 2009 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in Champions League, County cricket and tagged

Just one match into this tournament and I am beginning to get a sense of why India is such a difficult place to play cricket for overseas teams. Of course the conditions are alien to most British cricketers – pitches, outfields, heat, humidity – but far worse than these are two words that strike the fear of god into every foreign cricketer to have played here: Delhi Belly.

The coach and captain might pick their preferred team 24 hours before the start of the match but that is by no means guaranteed to be the team that will take the field. The dreaded DB can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. It lurks like a silent monster in dark corners (don’t drink the tap water, or the swimming pool water and certainly don’t lick your fingers to shine wet the ball when shining it) and when it hits it does so without rationale with such virulence as to make you wish you could crawl up into a little hole and die.

That might be being over dramatic but that’s how Mike Yardy felt when he woke yesterday morning. He was replaced in the team by Chad Keegan who bowled very well against New South Wales in our defeat. They proved far stronger than us on the night (as they had looked, too, on paper) but we certainly missed Yardy’s solid batting in the middle order.

Before the start of the match the two teams were told to line up alongside each other, shake hands and exchange pleasantries; part of an ICC Spirit of Cricket initiative that is commendable but slightly surreal when it is Brett Lee you are shaking hands with and ten minutes later he is busting every sinew to break your toes.

Before the line up the two teams were waiting in the tunnel; a delay in proceedings made for some awkward chat between the two sets of nervous players. Stuart Clark asked what was wrong with Yardy. When we told him, several of the Aussie’s exchanged knowingly sympathetic looks. Doug Bollinger expressed his sympathy more openly:

“Poor bastard. Worst thing in the world Delhi Belly. I’d rather get shot than ever get that again!”

Robin Martin-Jenkins is an allrounder with Sussex and writes regularly for The Wisden Cricketer

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