On home ground, Indian cricketers hardly get any ‘normal’ time — the ubiquitous Indian fan, with a handy camera or cell phone is a tireless hunter of selfies with the sportstars. Foreign tours like the current South Africa series or elsewhere are a dream for the cricket stars who can enjoy walking around and going on shopping expeditions without being pestered for autographs and photographs.
The early images coming out of Cape Town ahead of the first Test are proof of how much the Indians have been enjoying living lives away from hordes of fans, letting their hair down.
After a long and demanding home stretch, Virat Kohli & Co. seem to be loving their solitude in South Africa, away from the media glare and selfie-hunting fans.
As photographs of Kohli’s ‘common-man-who-loves-discount-shopping’ avatar and his impromptu dance with Shikhar Dhawan on the streets of Cape Town went viral on social media, they reminded one of how much the cricketer misses the life of an ordinary citizen. It’s not every day that Kohli can roam the streets or walk into a supermarket without calling for attention. During the Champions Trophy in England last year, he had declared he loved playing in other countries. “There’s so much attention on you back home that I love travelling away and playing in other countries. I love just spending some normal time, which I’m not able to do back home,” he had said.
Last year in London, when he was still the cricketing world’s most eligible bachelor, Kohli took long walks alone in the evenings. Now that he is married, he seems to be taking the latest tour as an opportunity to fulfill his dutiful hours as a husband by taking wife Anushka Sharma shopping.
Dinesh Karthik, who will join the India squad in South Africa for the limited-over series in February, says players look forward to away tours as they provides more me-time. “You need this time to relax especially after a long domestic season. That’s why most players tend to enjoy touring,” he adds.
Even though the number of travelling mediapersons for away matches has increased over the years, the media and fan focus is a lot less than at home.
Former Indian pacer L. Balaji says superstars too crave for some ‘normal time’. “Celebs tend to express their individuality away from the frenzy. In Australia, during my first long tour as a 20-year-old, I saw how Sachin enjoyed walking on the streets. He was a lot more relaxed and it helped him unwind between matches. The entire team enjoyed eating out in restaurants and spending time together in public places,” Balaji recalls of India’s 2004 tour Down Under.