Home. It conjures visions of a place of familiarity and comfort, a place where you can be yourself, a place that affords you the best opportunity of expressing yourself, secure in the knowledge that there are few surprises in store.
Particularly in team sport, 'home' is a crucial component of a team's success. As a unit, every team gathers force and momentum and confidence when they are cheered on by a packed house. Several players and coaches have often referred to the home crowd as the unofficial 12th man, particularly in international and club football where the 'away goals' rule is a further testament to the challenges of playing in front of occasionally hostile away crowds.
One of the great charms of international sport in general, and cricket in particular, is the extremes that exist between playing at home and playing away. In cricket, the crowd is one massive factor; then, there are the conditions – both in terms of the weather and in terms of the nature of pitches, which vary considerably from one country to another.