The tour to India was an amazing experience. I was surprised to be picked because I’d only turned 17 a few months earlier, and hadn’t even gone to the Australian Under-19 championships from which national teams in that age group were traditionally chosen.
I was still eligible to play Under-17s, but somehow it was decided I was ready to take a leap up. So, I boarded a flight for my first overseas trip with players including future Test stars Jason Gillespie, Matt Nicholson, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, and my Campbelltown and future NSW teammate Corey Richards.
It’s difficult to describe India and its workings to someone who has never been there. You can see some awful things: beggars affected by leprosy, polio or other sicknesses; and children living in the streets and fossicking from garbage to make a living. There are the sickening smells and invasions of personal space that challenge you from the moment you get through airport customs, and you have to be sensible about what you eat and drink, and what you touch.
Alternately, there is so much colour and diversity that you could go back to India every day for as long as you lived and experience something different every single time. In India, anything can happen, and usually does; that’s why I love it so much, and will never tire of going there.
Image: Brett Lee gestures to local fans during a training session in India