IPL 2013 April 10, 2013

Settling in with Chennai's Super Kings

Chris Morris gets his first taste of flying business-class, what it means to be a high-profile cricketer in India, and the IPL

After being part of the team that won the South African domestic 20-over tournament, Lions, things have gone really quickly for me and one of my opponents on the day of that final, Albie Morkel. We left Johannesburg on Monday afternoon, and flew via Addis Ababa and Delhi to Chandigarh, to meet up with Chennai Super Kings.

It was an unusual route but it ended up being the best way for us to travel. It was my first time flying business class and the best thing about it was being able to lie flat on a plane. Our first flight was five-and-a-half hours and we got to Addis in time for the Manchester derby. I'm a United supporter and when we had to board again the score was still 1-all, so I was in a pretty good mood - until I got to India and heard we had lost.

After another five-and-a-half hour flight, I was thankful the trip from Delhi to Chandigarh involved more time taxiing than in the air, and it was good to finally get there. One thing I realised on the way was how popular Albie is in India. He had a bottle of Jack Daniels in his bag, to take for one of the guys on our support staff, and there was a bit of a fuss of whether he was allowed to bring it on the flight. When the flight attendant saw it was Albie, he let it through.

Some of you might be wondering about Albie's ankle, after he took a tumble in the final. You will be happy to know that he is fine.

We had our first trip to the ground on Tuesday and it was good to see the team and be among some schoolboy heroes. Everybody seemed very happy, and even though they are all superstars to me, they don't act like it. Let me tell you, we all get treated like superstars though; you don't even have to carry have your own bag.

We had a training session at 3pm and it was quite nice for me to see that a lot of the regimes are exactly what we do at Lions, especially the warm-up drills. It also had the same laid-back, relaxed feel that we have at the Wanderers, so the vibe was really good.

I still can't believe I am in this environment and am going to rub shoulders with so many international players. Yesterday, I walked into the change room and there was MS Dhoni and Michael Hussey, getting a rub down. Hussey has always been one of my favourite batsmen to watch, because he hits the ball so cleanly.

Today I had lunch with Andy Bichel - my first proper Indian lunch - and Suresh Raina was also there. We spoke like we had known each other for ages. I stuck to butter chicken because it's something I am familiar with, but I am definitely going to get more adventurous with everything. I can't wait to experience the culture of this country and, especially, the crowds. To see Eden Gardens packed is one of the things I am most looking forward to.

We only play Kolkata Knight Riders next Saturday, so there's a bit of a wait for that, but the big news is that I might play against Kings XI Punjab. It hasn't been very long since I arrived, but I got in a good sleep last night - I was lights out by about 9pm and only woke up at 11am. And I may even take an afternoon nap after my stretching session.

I'm obviously a little bit nervous and before I left home I was feeling a little bit of pressure, but being here with the team has really had a calming effect. I know that being an international player comes with some expectation but I am going to take it on the chin and enjoy the experience.

Today, it's going to be awesome to play against Adam Gilchrist, and hopefully we can have a beer afterwards. And, later in the tournament, it will be great to meet Chris Gayle and Brett Lee. I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

South Africa and Lions fast bowler Chris Morris plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL