Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden has heaped praise on India and revealed that his "spiritual home" is in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Hayden, who played for Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings and later became the brand ambassador of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), said he liked South India.
"My spiritual home is certainly within Tamil Nadu. I have always had a deep connection with the people (in Tamil Nadu), the way they revere cricket. They are a coastal community as well. My preference is in the south (of India). I like the humidity and the coastal environment. I have a deep connection with the cuisine. India is a very emotional place. It is a place where there is great acceptance of people. There is a kindness of human heart here," the 46-year-old told International Business Times, India during the historic Test between India and Afghanistan in Bengaluru recently.
The former left-handed batsman, who did TV commentary in the Bengaluru Test, said his wife and daughter were in India for the first time and they enjoyed their time in the country.
"My wife and daughter are over here for the first time. My daughter is celebrating her 16th birthday. I wanted to share with them that connection to the beautiful people in India. It is amazing to wake up every day and see the smile on their faces and finally they understand dad was talking about this at home," Hayden, who played 103 Tests and 161 ODIs, said.
Loved playing in Indian conditions: Hayden
The tall Queenslander said India was the place which revived his career in 2001 and he loved playing in these conditions.
"From a performance point of view, I loved to play in these conditions. Beyond that, yes this was the place where I dreamt and keeping and maintaining my spot in the Australian team. I dreamt bold, big and my career went up. It was largely due to the growth out of this country (India). My common interest is cricket, food, the ocean," he explained.
When asked whether he would be coaching or mentoring an IPL side, he did not commit and said there were a host of things which he wanted to explore.
"I want to explore some of my other passions along with cricket. My commentary gives me a great opportunity to stay involved in the game. Through that, I can express my love of the game. There are a host of other things which I have not done which I like to do. I want to develop food and travel content, media shows."
"I would love to involve my family in that. In and around the broadcast (of cricket), I would love to partner with properties that cover the cricket to bring the human interests to life. I love to tell stories. There are lots of things along with what I usually do within my role as a commentator. I want to talk to people which I enjoy doing," he said.