A haircut with Steve Waugh, observing Tendulkar patiently wait in line on the cafeteria, and different recollections from CWG ’98

Aminul Islam, the previous Bangladesh captain, recalls randomly going for a haircut at the side of Steve Waugh and Gavin Robertson, the previous Australia off-spinner, on the hairdressing facility within the 1998 Commonwealth Games Village in Kuala Lumpur. “They said, ‘hey, let’s go and have our hair cut.’ So all three of us went.”

Alistair Campbell, the previous Zimbabwe captain, remembers queuing up on the “old-school” telephone cubicles within the athletes’ cafeteria to request his sponsors for substitute bats after he broke a pair. Former India batsman Amay Khurasiya would stay up for refills to reach because the restricted vegetarian choices within the round the clock cafeteria would get polished off early.

For cricketers used to running in their very own cocooned international of bilateral excursions and the peculiar multi-team, however nonetheless single-sport, match, Khurasiya feels the CWG Village surroundings gave a “slight indication” of what an Olympics Village should really feel like. Coming from a land the place cricket stays “a religion”, Gagan Khoda, the previous India batsman and selector, recalls the sobering revel in of observing masses of elite athletes from massively other disciplines teach and compete.

Cricket returns to the CWG for the primary time at Birmingham 2022 since that maiden look in Kuala Lumpur 1998. While 16 males’s groups competed within the one-day structure in 1998, with South Africa taking gold, 8 girls’s groups will play within the T20 model this time. Cricket was once a part of the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games as neatly however India didn’t participate in each, which leaves CWG 1998 as their most effective primary multi-sport match until date.

The Kuala Lumpur Village was once a perfect leveller for the cricketers; a few of the greatest stars of the sport, corresponding to Sachin Tendulkar, the Waugh brothers and Curtly Ambrose, have been “not that important here,” as Aminul says. “The swimmers and athletes were a much bigger attraction.”

Starstruck by way of sprinters, swimmers

Campbell says he was once starstruck to start with. “You saw the people who you had watched only on TV – the sprinters, the swimmers, so it was peculiar from that perspective,” Campbell says. “You would stroll previous a large title and pass, ‘hey, that is so-and-so,’ or ‘isn’t he the 400m report holder?’ and so forth.

“A lot of us in the Zimbabwe team were avid watchers of other sports. We knew the faces, knew what they did, particularly in athletics. And the ability to hop on to a bus and go anywhere, from aquatics to athletics to hockey, was a huge eye-opener. Any spare opportunity, we would grab a bus and go watch the heats and cheer on the few Zimbabweans who were also competing.”

It wasn’t that the cricketers would pass completely unrecognised. “A South African swimmer was very excited that cricket was in the Commonwealth Games and his heroes like (Shaun) Pollock, (Makhaya) Ntini, (Mark) Boucher, (Jacques) Kallis were all there, and they won gold also,” says Aminul, who would make 145 towards India in Bangladesh’s maiden Test fit two years later.

Still, cricket was once a novelty for plenty of at CWG 1998, and Campbell would finally end up explaining the fundamentals to different athletes over dinner. “A lot of the guys there weren’t sure about what this game was and how it is played. Some wanted explanations on the laws and what not,” says Campbell.

Cuisines and conversations

For Khurasiya and Khoda, the conversations over foods with the opposite athletes have been memorable. “It was a world full of beautiful sports, beautiful athletes and beautiful people. People would start biking or training at 5 in the morning. The commitment levels were unbelievably high. It was something to sit with such people and have your meal,” says Khurasiya.

Witnessing at shut quarters what athletes in particular person disciplines undergo of their day-to-day routines was once a lesson for Campbell. “As cricketers, even then, things were sorted out for you as a team. As an athlete, yes, you have your training or sparring partners, but otherwise it is a lonely existence in an individual sport. It was an eye-opener to see these guys train and just how disciplined they were. Just the solitude they go through, especially athletics.”

Standing consistent with masses to fill their plates within the cafeteria buffet was once any other novel revel in for the world cricketers used to laidback five-star resort spreads and room carrier.

“There was no VIP treatment for anyone, everyone would stand in line. But it made no difference to Sachin Tendulkar, who was as modest then as he is now, and when Tendulkar is not complaining, nobody complains,” says Khurasiya.

While the vegetarians clearly had fewer possible choices – and minus the Indian spices too – total, the Malaysians hadn’t held again with the number of fare on be offering. So the cafeteria was once a ceaseless melting pot of cultures, in additional techniques than one.

“Those foods were very healthy, mostly steamed, not much oil. I became a fan of steamed salmon after those days,” says Aminul.

“They had cuisines from all over the world. They really pushed hard. You could have Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, typical English fare, they really did an outstanding job in catering for all the different cultures there. It was no mean feat, 24 hours a day,” says Campbell. “Some of the disciplines would finish really late, and they would want a midnight snack. So the cafeteria was a hive of activity all the time. It wasn’t just starch and protein, there was something for everybody there.”

Campbell additionally remembers the sheer ease of having across the Village and the city past it. “It was like every sort of whim was taken care of. Even if you wanted to leave the Village to have food outside or go to a bar, the transport system was unbelievable. You just had to look out for the shuttle. It was like being on the London subway. It was clockwork 24 hours a day.”

Opening rite

Apart from lifestyles within the Village, the outlet rite at a packed stadium was once the place the variation in point of fact hit one of the cricketers. For Bangladesh, the instant was once even larger as they’d been on the upward thrust as a cricket country; they’d received the ICC Trophy in 1997 to qualify for his or her maiden World Cup in 1999. Already, there have been nice expectancies from the workforce.

“When you go for the opening ceremony, you are not just cricketers, you are part of the Bangladesh contingent. That is a completely different feeling,” says Aminul.

“Our captain was Akram Khan, but I became captain after the Commonwealth Games. That was Akram’s last as captain, and he was supposed to carry the flag, but at the last moment, I think one of our shooters did.”

Campbell, in the meantime, needed to wait, and wait, at the side of the remainder of the Zimbabwe contingent, for his or her flip to return. “We were ‘Z’, and Malaysia is very hot and humid. But when we did go in eventually, it was marvellous. You see it on TV but to actually go through it was terrific,” says Campbell.

In distinction, the cricket itself was once in large part uninspiring on the CWG. Played throughout six venues in Kuala Lumpur, the contest produced a number of low-scoring howlers; bronze-medallists New Zealand have been bowled out for 58 within the semi-final towards silver-medallists Australia; within the different semi-final, South Africa have been 96 for 9 chasing Sri Lanka’s 130 prior to scraping via.

Practice amenities have been scarce, and the pitches were impulsively laid and have been, understandably, under-prepared in a spot this is nonetheless now not recognized for its cricket. In reality, the ICC Trophy, additionally held in Kuala Lumpur a yr previous in 1997, were performed on artificial pitches.

“The wickets were bad and nowhere near international standard. They were soggy and bouncing awkwardly,” says Khoda. “But all of us would sit and eat together, so many people from across sports and countries coming together. And I loved that.”

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