Bangalore: In an era when some players rarely venture out of their hotel rooms while on tour, Australia's Brett Lee said it felt great to be back in his "second home" of India for the World Cup.
Lee, who has even enjoyed success in the Indian music charts, is one of the most popular overseas players with local fans, whose affection is usually directed towards homegrown stars such as Sachin Tendulkar.
And the 34-year-old fast bowler said he was touched by the reception he received in India.
"I love the culture, I've tried to learn Hindi. I've been here 50-odd times now so it's a bit like my second home," Lee said at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium where champions Australia play Kenya on Sunday.
"I've really, really embraced it - and I think people have embraced me as well, which I feel very, very proud of."
The Deccan Herald, a Bangalore-based daily, has run a couple of articles this week suggesting Australian players are deliberately trying to remain aloof from fans.
But they have exempted Lee from any criticism, with Thursday's edition saying he was "more than willing to pose for pictures" while speaking to a Herald reporter.
"Every time you come back here you're always welcome," Lee said. "That's the Indian culture, the hospitality is the best in the world."
One of the problems for players is balancing security concerns with a desire to explore their new surroundings.
Pakistan was stripped of its World Cup matches following an armed attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in March 2009 but Lee stressed Australia had no complaints about the level of protection they had received at the tournament.
"The security we've got here and also what we've got in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is brilliant. It's been outstanding, it's been thorough," he said, highlighting sweeps at grounds and a big police presence.
"But as a player we aren't experts in that field. We've got the right guys in charge here and the right people on the ground," he added.
"If there are any potential threats we'll definitely know about it and it will be dealt with appropriately.
"But at this point in time everyone's happy and comfortable with the way things are going as far as security goes."