RCB’s newest fan, all the way from Scotland!
It was the 42nd over of the Indian innings in the 3rd ODI against South Africa.
I'd just switched seats and to my right was the only Caucasian man in the West Pavilion. Curious, I asked him if he was South African and was there rooting for the team.
"No", he said, "I'm a Scot. And I'm traveling through India".
With the action on the field being uninspiring, I started engaging in conversation with him.
An hour and a half later, we had our newest RCB fan.
This then is the story of Phil Wright. Read on.
"Scotland eh?", I repeated with a slightly quizzical expression. He understood, and immediately smiled, " Yeah,I'm from Edinburgh but my father's from England, and that's where the cricket connection comes from".
I nodded, and our conversation veered to travel. Phil narrated his adventures from Africa where he'd volunteered for a few months before heading to Asia as part of his year off.
He discussed his time in India, talking about his travails from the South, and the wonderful people he's met so far. He mentioned his plans to head North, and then to South East Asia in April/May.
Having backpacked across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia,Thailand and Cambodia last year, I launched into a must-do list of activities for the tropics.
We discussed Scuba diving for a bit before being interrupted by Ravi Shastri's booming voice over the Public Announcement System.
As we cheered loudly for India's series win and the victory lap, the chat got back to cricket and the IPL. I asked him about the franchise he rooted for, and got a shrug saying he was neutral.
Aha, I thought to myself. I carefully unrolled my red-and-gold RCB poster and quizzed again, "Hear about them?"
He glanced at the poster in what I assumed was admiration (Thanks again Anisha!) and said, "RCB? Kevin Pietersen's team right?"
"Yeah, That's the one!", I said, and went on about my connection to the team.
From growing up idolizing Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid; weeping in joy when Anil snared Brian Lara with a broken jaw, practising the backfoot punch through cover with a clenched mouth over and over again to relive Rahul's golden moment from Adelaide.
Getting sly "Eh Dravid, khel na!" comments when I left the ball alone in college matches to replying with a straight drive the next ball to receive grudging applause for my (limited) technique.
I spoke about the class in the RCB ranks, pointing out Boucher, Kallis, Steyn, Van Der Merwe, Virat and Mithun from the match alone, and the fan connection that is far superior to the other franchises.
Impressed, he spoke about the huge interest (and part jealously) in the British Isles about the IPL, and as we walked out of the stadium, we discussed how big the potential was for RCB to tap into the British markets for a fan base, especially with Pietersen and Morgan in the team.
There were fascinating cultural insights he provided me about folks in different areas of the United Kingdom, ranging from their history, to religious inclinations, political scenarios and sports preferences.
We were to head in different directions, but so interesting was the conversation that I decided to drop him off at his hotel before heading back to campus.
As our journey was ending, I asked him if he would be around when the IPL was on. He replied in the affirmative, adding, " I'll be in Delhi in March, and after all we've discussed and your zeal for the team, I'm going to be rooting for Bangalore!"
I smiled a small smile, " We must record the moment! The RCB induction ".
We got off the auto, and in a small bylane of Relief Road in Ahmedabad, Phil Wright (Username 'Pino' in the fan club) became a part of the RCB family. (Photo above, and check out his comment on my "Of kela wafers..." post)
At the rate at which I'm going thanks to RCB passion, I might just face legal action from anti-conversion organizations.