In the lobby with Dirk
Talking skiing, cricket and family with one of the more interesting cricketers of recent times
What does it feel like to be a kid of a cricketer on tour? What do their little brains wonder when journalists pin down their fathers as they emerge from elevators and delay outings to the beach?
I'm sitting with Dirk Nannes in the hotel lobby. He has come down with his son, who wants to go to the beach. His wife is expected to join them with their second child soon.
Nannes talks about cricketers and skiers. "In the skiing world, I was the normal guy; in the cricketing world, I am considered weird!" His fascinating past has been documented well. Skiing. The sax. Japanese. And now cricket.
What does the skier think about cricketers, I want to know. His son wants to go the beach. He hops on to the sofa next to his father and smiles. Perhaps he is visualising the swim ahead. "Will we be here till mom comes?" Nannes nods his head.
"Cricketers are completely a different breed," says Nannes. The kid sits quiet, watching his dad speak. "Cricketers are a lot more introverted; skiers are a lot more free. Skiers are more interesting people. Cricketers think a lot about their sport - they obsess. There's not much to think about the actual sport in skiing, you know. Cricketers... "
"Daddy, let's go to the beach!" Clearly the boy has had enough of the chit-chat. Nannes convinces him that they have to wait for his mother. "Do you want to sit on my lap while I talk to this gentleman?"
Gentleman! No one has abused me like that before. I smile weakly at the kid, who takes one look at me, shakes his head and hops on to his father's lap. The interview continues. "I wouldn't say that cricketers are boring, but their sense of humour is a bit different."
Nannes is known to be not too fond of team meetings. "I don't listen too much. By the time I enter the field, I have forgotten all about it. So when you see me wander towards mid-on or mid-off, I am actually asking them what was discussed! I don't like team meetings much. I am thinking where to eat."
His son, meanwhile, is thinking of the sea. The waves. Getting into the water. "Daddy! Let's go to the beach," he says again. Nannes buys more time by reminding him that they have to wait for his mother. Silence.
The talk shifts to his disappointment with Australia's selection ("If I am not good enough to be in the top 30 Australian cricketers, I will eat my hat.") and how he takes disappointments on the field: "I certainly want to win but I get over the losses pretty quickly. Fifteen minutes after the game, you might be upset, but you can't carry on mourning. One thing my wife always tells me is that when I get home, she never knows whether I have won or lost."
The kid is staring continuously at the elevator now. "Where is mom? Why isn't she here?" Nannes whispers something to him and gives him a hug. The child smiles. More time bought.
The talk moves on to his travels in Japan. "Love it. The food, the people are fantastic, very culturally different - they are very outwardly friendly, and they love the kid". Then it's back to the difference between the two sports. "In skiing, you can do your own thing. Here in cricket, the most difficult thing is that you have other people relying on you. If you stuff up here, you let down other people." And here he is, letting his kid down, wasting his time with me.
"Daddy! Mom is here," the boy pipes up. "Look, there she is. Let's go to the beach!" By this time, if I was half-decent, I would have asked him to go. But I don't. I just remain quiet and watch. Nannes' wife helps him out. She comes up with a smile, and as she takes her elder son away, says, "You know, I didn't even know that he used to play cricket when I married him!"
Where did he meet his wife? "Through mutual friends. She is a snowboarder, and that's how we met. You know the best compliment I got in this IPL? It came from AB [de Villiers]. He said, you have a beautiful family, fantastic kids and a wonderful wife. What more can I ask for?
"I don't have a philosophy of life or something like that. All I want is my kids to be happy." Okay, I get the hint. Off you go, sir, to the beach.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo