October 2009
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Edward Craig: New South Wales v Somerset

October 22nd, 2009 by Edward Craig in Champions League, County cricket

One of the fun things about a tournament such as the Champions League that is set over a number of venues, is all the people involved end up travelling together, giving people like me a chance to rub shoulders with people like them (the players).

So, on the early flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, I had the whole New South Wales squad sat behind me. Not desperately interesting in itself, but when I did the reverse trip earlier in the week, I travelled alongside the Somerset players – and the differences were marked.

Admittedly, NSW had just secured a place in the final the night before. They were in fine spirits – but they also had a serious, job-half-done look about them. They wore matching blue t-shirts, looked very fit and very strong. They looked a team.

Somerset, the final remains of county cricket in this tournament, had just been knocked out. On the pitch they looked like they wanted to go home so it was no surprise to see them in jovial mood at the airport. They looked a rag-tag bunch, more a collection of backpackers than a professional sports team. Some looked overweight, Max Waller looked like he was about to snap (he’s young but the same age as Phillip Hughes). Maybe they were demob happy but the contrast with NSW was stark.

And for the record: Brett Lee slept the whole two-hour flight; Stuart Clark talked tactics with the coach; David Warner listened to music; Phillip Hughes brooded behind dark glasses, perhaps thinking about the short ball; all chewed gum and they were in economy class.

The actual trophy was also on board, being escorted by an ex-British Army officer (and former ECB employee). That’s clearly the only calibre of man that can be entrusted with such a duty …

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

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