When Stephen Fleming spoke to scribes at the end of a long series in India at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, the fatigue was obvious. Not the fatigue that comes with playing a hundred overs in blazing heat. Not the fatigue that comes with having a thorough fitness work out. The fatigue that comes with spending days on end on the road, in different conditions, different places and different situations.
The itinerary of the Kiwi team was a clumsy one to start with. The wisdom of allotting matches to venues spread along the length and breadth of a large country like India is something the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will have to think about. The Kiwis played as far north as Delhi and as far south as Hyderabad and Bangalore. In the east, Guwahati was covered while Rajkot and Jodhpur completed the western segment of the tour. Rajkot gave the Kiwis a 45 degree Celsius playing atmosphere in arid desert like conditions. Guwahati was cooler much wetter and provided a different batting surface even.
What is the point of this detailed geographical perspective on the series? When a team is winning it is easy to down play the difficulties of touring. When the odds are stacked against you on spinning tracks out in the field, it helps to have things go your way off it. Unfortunately for Stephen Fleming and his team that was not always the case. Nevertheless, the Kiwi skipper put up a brave front and never once let his frustration get the better of him. When addressing the press, the attitude of the Kiwi think tank showed through loud and clear. Professionalism was the watchword. The manager Jeff Crowe, coach David Trist and Fleming himself were by far the three most accessible people on tour from either side. When asked about the fact that not a word of complaint had slipped through Kiwi lips on this tour Jeff Crowe answered "India is a big place and it is difficult to get around India because of connections and things like that and we understand that. It is frustrating from time to time but when you tour India and come to the sub-continent you have to come with the right attitude". New Zealand's approach to playing in India was impeccable. No one will argue with that.
At the end of the tour some of the most well worn cliches in cricket circles were once again served up. At the presentation ceremony Ravi Shastri told Fleming that he was a great ambassador of his country. The look on Fleming's face suggested that he was tired of being a well mannered, sporting even gentle captain at the losing end. If the Indians are devastatingly sharp on the field, they need to back that up with some solid off the field presence. Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev will not regret it if they sat in on a few New Zealand press conferences. As Fleming put it, there had been a lot of gains from a hard tour of India. Some obvious and others not so much so. Results apart, this tour has been a winning proposition for both teams.