I’ll never forget my first visit to India. It was 1996 and the Australian
team has called me up overnight to play in my first One-Day international game.
My flight landed at midnight and I was playing for Australia by 9am.
It all happened so quickly and I was trying to digest everything you
typically see in India – the activity on the street, in the airport, and in the
hotels, which is magnified by about a thousand times when it is in and around
the Australian cricket team. It was quite an assault on the senses, but I liked
it from the outset and was soon captivated by this fascinating country.
Australian cricketers enjoy a high profile in India and on tour we were
always made to feel very welcome. The hospitality is lavish and generous, making
India a wonderful place to go to as an international cricketer.
These days, as the captain of Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab I
spend close to three months a year in India. This year I’ll also be playing in
the IPL for one last season before retiring from cricket!
There’s a lot of beauty in India. My last two visits have taken me to
Dharamshala in the foothills of the Himalayas. An unforgettable experience was
playing cricket with the snow-capped Himalayan Mountains in the background. We
even had the Dalai Lama drop by to watch the game from his residence up the
The mutual passion that Australians and Indians have for cricket is a
wonderful link and a great way to forge closer bilateral relations. Of course,
India and Australia have much in common, not only in sport, but also in business
and education. The appetite for education in India, especially in tertiary
studies, has seen huge growth in the past 15 years and there are some wonderful
developmental opportunities between the two countries.
This is something I’ve seen firsthand in my role as the brand ambassador to
India for the University of Wollongong (UOW), which has seen me take many trips
to India as the university builds relationships with Indian corporations and
We’ve also forged a partnership with the Bradman Foundation to set up a
sports/study scholarship program. Each year we look forward to welcoming an
Indian student to study at the UOW and gain access to the foundation’s fantastic
cricket training facilities.