What do foreign fast bowlers find tougher in India? Bowling on spin-friendly pitches or driving on chaotic roads? It’s a tough call but given the stakes, they probably would say it’s the latter.
“I have driven in India and it can be chaos on the roads as we know it all,” said former Aussie fast bowler Brett Lee, perhaps the most popular Australian in India, on the sidelines of the launch of the Road Safety World T20 Series here on Thursday.
Lee has been roped in by Mumbai maestros Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar who have joined hands to spread the message of road safety through the league which will see 75 former cricketers from five countries take guard once again.
The series was announced here on Thursday in the presence of captains Brian Lara (West Indies), Brett Lee (Australia), Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka) and Jonty Rhodes (South Africa).
Tendulkar, who will have his former India opening partner Virender Sehwag by his side, will lead the Indian team to be played in Mumbai and Pune from February 4-16.
“I think sometimes people laugh and you see them with their helmet straps down, I mean what’s the point. So, when a batsman goes out to the centre, he wears the helmet. So when you are hopping on the road, and if you fall on the road, your head is going to be like an egg. That head will crack. You will have a really bad injury or death. We don’t want that. And I see a lot of people, in all seriousness, on bikes with a whole family of five to six to seven and one person will have a helmet and the poor little kid in front won’t have one. As a parent, as a brother do yourself a favour. When you are hopping on a motorcycle, be careful and wear an appropriate helmet. Not cricket helmet but a proper motorcycle helmet,” Lee elaborated.
A few years ago, when former England international Adam Hollioake visited India for a T20 tournament in Bengaluru, he was taken aback by the chaos on the road. “I don’t know if the Indian drivers are most skillful or the luckiest… It’s crazy out there on the roads!”
In a tragic coincidence, his brother, Ben, who too played for England, died in a road crash in Australia at the age of 24 in 2002. Former India skipper Gavaskar, the Commissioner of the league, made a passionate plea about prioritising safety on roads saying there should be zero tolerance for traffic violations.
Giving his own example of how easily he got his driver’s licence done, Gavaskar asked the transport authorities across the country to make the procedure watertight.
Appealing to motorists to follow rules, Tendulkar said, “Lives cannot be lost because of indiscipline and carelessness. I feel it is every individual’s responsibility to follow traffic rules and we all are ambassadors (of road safety).”
“I had said that (Sachin-Sachin chant) would reverberate as long as I breathe so here is another opportunity for me to experience that again, though during IPLs and all that they (fans) have been kind enough to acknowledge and appreciate whenever I have walked on field, they have shown their affection..and that is what I have prayed that this love and affection should continue as long as I breathe…
“That will happen as time goes by… yesterday when we were shooting, somewhere I felt that my subconscious mind was switching on, so I am prepared for this…it will be fun.”