VARUN Sharma admits he knew next to nothing about Newcastle when arrived at the start of the season to play cricket for Cardiff-Boolaroo.
But he has not taken long to make himself at home, on and off the field.
The 30-year-old right-hander from Madhya Pradesh in India has forged a career as a globe-trotting professional, playing and coaching in England, Kenya and Sri Lanka, before Cardiff provided an opportunity to put another stamp in his passport.
“All I knew about Newcastle is it was somewhere near Sydney,” Sharma said.
“But it is a beautiful city and the weather is very nice, and I think for me it is better than Sydney.
“I really like quiet places a lot.”
His countryman Rahul Bakshi, who has been Cardiff’s prolific opening batsman for the past two seasons, was instrumental in convincing Sharma to sign with last year’s wooden spooners.
“Rahul Bakshi played a big part in me coming here,” Sharma said.
“He was the one who told me good things about Newcastle, and that was how I ended up coming over … I have been really enjoying my time with the Cardiff club.
“They have been very nice and are supporting me with everything, so it’s been a good time.
“There are so many reasons why I would like to come back to this club, but we will see.”
Sharma, who played against international stars Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Murali Kartik during his time with the Madhya Pradesh state side, has wasted no time in stamping his class on the Newcastle competition.
In seven innings, he has racked up 376 runs at an average of 75.20, including two centuries.
One of those tons came last weekend against competition leaders University, whose attack was spearheaded by former NSW paceman Aaron Bird. Bird took 7-37 from 11 overs to dismiss Cardiff for 176, of which Sharma contributed a blazing 108 from 98 balls, with nine fours and five sixes.
Along the way, he shared a 123-run partnership with Bakshi (47) – their second triple-figure stand of the season.
“He was bowling quick,” Shama said of Bird. “He was probably the fastest I have played against here in Newcastle. We would have liked to have won the match. Especially against University, I have heard they are one of the best teams.
“But maybe next time.”
Sharma, who can be contacted for coaching sessions on 0469 307322, will continue his magical mystery tour at the end of the season.
He is weighing up another stint in England, or possibly the United States.
“It’s been four years of travelling now,” he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.