The Sydney Cricket Ground was beginning to fill up. The month-long odyssey of the World Cup 2015 group stage matches winding their way through Australia and New Zealand was over, and it was the day of the first quarterfinal in Sydney between Sri Lanka and South Africa. The press box was muted since neither the host teams nor India featured on that day, but it was still relatively full.

I had found my spot in the press box and was setting up shop for the next 7 hours. My phone charged and ready to take pictures or videos, my laptop plugged in with Cricinfo’s Ball-by-Ball page open, and my trusty notebook and pen to my right, ready for taking notes. A journalist friend of mine, one of the younger ones and on their first World Cup duty as well, came to my seat and said in hushed tones: “Oh my God, Rahul Dravid is here. I want to meet him and say hello. Help me."

I had interviewed Dravid for my podcast show in 2012, and was part of a Google Hangout with him for, and exchanged a couple of emails with him in 2-3 years, but I wouldn’t call us friends, or acquaintances even. Certainly not close enough to introduce a stranger to him. But I betrayed all that and said to my friend, “Oh, just go up to him and say hello. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind." The truth was that I wanted to go up to him and introduce myself as well, but I was too shy, and perhaps I was apprehensive of the fanboy in me poking his head out.

I had been on the road, along with my wife, for the previous 8 months: traveling through Trinidad, Barbados, England, Ireland, India, U.A.E., Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and New Zealand. It was a trip of a lifetime, following the sun and cricket, through five continents. I finagled my way in to watching Tests, ODIs and T20s all over the world, a lot of it from comfy press boxes, rubbing shoulders with cricket journalists, and meeting former and current cricketers at the grounds, in their hotel rooms and some even at their homes.

I spent an entire day at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad talking West Indies cricket with Colin Croft; met former Indian all-rounder and chairman of selectors Chandu Borde at his house in Pune; had tea with and interviewed former Indian opener Madhav Apte in his posh home in South Mumbai; interviewed Craig McDermott in Abu Dhabi while the Australian team was netting behind us—I can still remember the fresh face of Phil Hughes running around, cheering his teammates on even though he wasn’t in the playing XI; spent a rain break in Manchester chatting with Sanjay Manjrekar about the ins and outs of TV commentary; met Mudassar Nazar dressed in comfy track shorts and flip-flops in the heat of Dubai; sequestered Daren Ganga to an abandoned room at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth and interviewed him….the list goes on. Despite meeting so many of cricketers, I still got nervous when I tried to walk up to one, as I was with Dravid.

After the quarterfinal, which South Africa won comfortably, my wife and I drove through the night back to Melbourne where India was scheduled to take on Bangladesh. There was just enough time after the 10-hour drive to have brunch before I needed to be at the ground for the start of the game. As I began settling into my seat, I noticed Nasser Hussain out of the corner of my eye.

During the worldwide trip, every chance I got, I asked cricketers and cricket administrators whether they would join my podcast. It had become a running joke amongst my friends; one friend even suggested that if I ever write a book about the travels, I should have a chapter titled “Whether Podcast?" And so, I went up to Hussain and asked, “whether podcast?" He said no right away, but in a typically English fashion, couched it with niceties and reasons so I didn’t feel bad at being rejected. As I was walking away, he said, “It’s a good thing you are doing, the podcast" and gave a curt nod of approval. He knows! As I walked back to my seat, I gave myself a mental fist pump that a former England captain and one of my favorite commentators knew about my podcast.

India batted first and piled on a big score. Rohit Sharma’s non-dismissal off a (possibly) waist high no ball was all the talk as the teams went in to the innings break. Usually, I get my food during the break early, get back to my seat and get ready for the game to resume. Why would anyone in their right mind, given the privilege to watch the action from the media centre, miss even a single ball? But that day I was a bit pre-occupied and didn’t get to the dining area till the start of the Bangladesh chase.

I was chatting with an Aussie writer friend, munching over delicious chicken and naan, when the familiar face of Dravid made its appearance in the dining area. He had helped himself to a plate of food and was looking around for a seat. Quite instinctively, probably due to the Hussain-aided confidence boost, I waved at him. He appeared to shrug his shoulders and walked towards our table. I put my right hand forward and introduced myself, “Hi Rahul, I’m Subash". Without missing a beat, he shook my hand and replied, “Yeah, I know." I imagined myself dropping the mic and walking away!

A few minutes later, Sanjay Manjrekar joined us at the table and the chatter continued. One journalist from India approached the table with a white floppy hat, wanting to get it signed by both Dravid and Manjrekar. He must have been nervous too, since he addressed Rahul as Sanjay, and Sanjay as Rahul. When someone at the table tried to correct him, Dravid chimed in. “No, no, it’s alright. It’s an honour. I grew up idolizing Sanjay." Typical Dravid.

Not only did I get to finally meet Dravid in person, we sat together for a good half hour talking cricket. I think we talked about T20s and DRS, but who the hell remembers? All I know is that I have a story to tell my grandchildren.

Subash Jayaraman is an Engineer by training and a cricket writer & podcaster by choice. He hosts a popular cricket podcast Couch Talk on and tweets as @thecricketcouch.

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