Eden experience changed Arthur`s vision

Johannesburg: A match at the historic Eden Gardens in Kolkata made Mickey Arthur realise the transition he has gone through in his life from being a provincial coach to the head of the South Africa national cricket team.

"My first experience of Eden Gardens was when the enormity of the change in my life hit me: 80,000 people in a cauldron of frenetic, heaving activity. It was a long, long way from the De Beers Diamond Oval and Buffalo Park (regional grounds in South Africa)," Arthur wrote in his biography `Taking the Mickey`.

"The magnitude of the job hit me hard, but in a very pleasant way. I was daunted, but not intimidated. I knew I could cope, but more than that, I believed I could thrive," Arthur wrote commenting on the Proteas tour of India in November 2005.

There had already been matches in Hyderabad, Bangalore and an abandoned game at Chennai before Eden Gardens left Arthur in awe.

"India was an eye-opener, a complete contrast and contradiction in so many ways. I said to myself several times during that tour that I loved India with all my heart and hated it with a passion.”

"When we were at the cricket ground it was wonderful -- the vibe, the colour, the noise, everything within the stands. Away from the cricket grounds, I really didn`t enjoy it much at all that first time.”

"I was never concerned about myself - it didn`t matter if I got sick or couldn`t sleep. But I became stressed when the players battled to prepare properly, because that jeopardized their performances and therefore the fortunes of the team," the coach wrote.

Arthur, however, conceded that he had to change his views in later years because of the better facilities available in the major cities.