Mike Veletta. Western Australian of Italian origin. Played the most forgotten cameo in a World Cup final, 45 off 31 in 1987. Is now a director at CBRE, a real-estate firm. In his office hangs a framed valuation with a hand-written inscription, "We knew you would be right… DK Lillee." It's a valuation of Lillee's mother-in-law's property in the hills in Western Australia. She was ill and wanted to sell it. Lillee had other agents chasing him, but went straight to Veletta. One of Veletta's colleagues valued it at A$650,000; it sold for $640,000. Veletta studied for the job part-time while he played, even when on tours to England and the West Indies in 1989 and 1991. Often had the piss taken by team-mates for it. Imagine a player doing something similar today.
Aleem Dar turns up in the India nets. Along with Kumar Dharmasena, the other umpire. Dar picks up a bat. Walks into one of the cages. No protective equipment. Not even a box. Doesn't need them. Tonks everything that comes his way, including Dharmasena's offbreaks. MS Dhoni takes time out to bowl donkey drops to the umpire. Dar tonks some more. Sound strategy. Don't hit the umpire a day before the Test.
The WACA, a pilgrimage. Land of some of the wackiest characters, most cracked pitches, and craziest plays in the game. Hope for a pitch that comes with a warning about graphic violence. Instead, get good, tight seam bowling good enough to run through the Indian batting again.
Enjoy free bus rides in Perth. Public transport not as efficient as in Melbourne and Sydney, though. Got to take taxis now and then.
Steve. Englishman. Film-maker. Also works with Channel 9. Has travelled the world. A good friend of Indian singer-songwriter Lucky Ali, who fittingly has sung quite a few songs about wanderers. Was in Bangalore once, and ran out of money. Rang Ali and was taken care of.
Got to see the good doctor when in Perth. Hop on a train to Fremantle. Half an hour later, find self at the shore. What a relief from the boiling heat of Perth. Restaurants on decks. Seagulls too. Warning reads: "Don't feed seagulls. They'll SOY." Presume it means "shit on you". Watch seagulls attack tables for leftovers as soon as people as much as get up. Vultures don't hold a candle to the sight.
Graeme Wood. Took many blows from the great West Indies fast bowlers of the '80s. Was too crazy a runner for a dour batsman. Hence also known as Kamikaze Kid. Says, "I honestly thought I was very quick. When I ran with a quick runner - if you ask Kim Hughes, he will say he enjoyed running with me. I think when I called, instead of saying no, they would try to get through. The legend has been overplayed. Grows and grows."
Take taxis back every night. Talkative and friendly drivers all of them. Indians, Australians, Sudanese, Iraqis, Greeks, all of them love passengers who listen. Show interest in their stories and they don't charge fare. Finally journalistic instincts pay tangibly
Adelaide airport. Don Bradman's photo first thing visible. Then a big display of the South Australian Sports Hall Of Fame. Bradman there again. So are Vic Richardson and Ian Chappell. Greg Chappell conspicuous in his absence. Clearly too many Indians in this country.
Tour reaches a point where a strange lethargy has set in. No contest on the field. Jet-lag of two hours from Perth to Adelaide. And why is it so hot in a developed country?
Adelaide a bit of a ghost town on weekdays. Walk the streets listening to Paul Kelly's "Adelaide", his song about his hometown, on loop. "I own this town / I spilled my wine / At the bottom of the statue of Colonel Light / And the streets are so wide / Everybody is inside / Sitting in the same chairs they were sitting in the last year / Talking about the crows / The crows…"
Friday and Saturday nights crazy. Hindley Street an unending party. Not to be missed are big screens with the Australian Open on everywhere. Watch Lleyton Hewitt survive a barrage of 23 aces and 58 winners from near-two-metre Canadian Milos Raonic in the third round. Later says it felt like facing Brett Lee or Shaun Tait in the nets. What India would give to face Lee and Tait, as opposed to Hilfenhaus and Siddle.
Adelaide Oval friendly. Walk into the Bradman Museum. MCG and SCG much more officious. Watch Bradman deliver his old road-safety message. Advert as long as an over.
Heineken advert on TV. Music catches ear. Straight from a Tarantino film. Draws you in until you realise towards the end that it is a soundtrack from a 1965 Bollywood horror-thriller Gumnaam. Neatly done. Even neater is, due credit is given to the original source of music. Something for Bollywood to learn from?
Hard to play cricket in Australia. Harder to cover it. Corporates and Channel 9 - bigger payers than the written media - take up all positions behind the bowler's arm. Press dismissed to fourth floor and extra cover at the MCG and square leg at the WACA. Even the hospitable South Australia Cricket Association can't get you a better spot than extra cover on the fourth floor. Small triumph to enter the Oval with a voice recorder, even as spectators film happily with their iPhones.
Living in a motel on a highway outside the city. Public transport shuts early here. Take taxis back every night. Talkative and friendly drivers all of them. Indians, Australians, Sudanese, Iraqis, Greeks - all love passengers who listen. Show interest in their stories and they don't charge the fare. Finally journalistic instincts pay tangibly.
More nationalism on display. New citizens get sworn in in the middle of the Oval on Australia Day. An Indian-origin family one of them. Hounded by TV channels for interviews. They bask in glory willingly.
Lovely Lebanese restaurants on Hindley Street. Tables outside with hookahs. Cards being played. Inside, soothing trance music. "Mate" gives way to "brother". Could well be a bazaar in a desert.
India rolled over before lunch. Another whitewash. Hang around at the Oval until evening. Lucky to watch Australia celebrate. They lie on the turf, they keep going in and out of change room, they go to the old scoreboard. Some of them have families there. About four hours after the finish, Siddle - unfortunate to not be Man of the Series - comes out. Still in his whites. Goes up to his mark. No ball in hand but starts running in as if to bowl. Bowls a phantom delivery, turns around, appeals to a phantom umpire and celebrates taking a phantom wicket. Arms aloft. What pure unbridled joy. Eight years ago it was Dravid who stayed back at the Oval for the moment to sink in.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo