If you have seen my earlier posts, you would have seen the playing area and the rules that held fort back then. This post is about my contribution to street cricket.
If you have read Part 1 carefully, you would have realized that I was the ball boy, being the youngest and also because of my comparatively limited cricketing skills. All that changed one eventful day when something dramatic happened. My Chithappa (uncle, more specifically husband of my mum’s younger sister) who was then in Bombay sent me an amazing gift by courier appreciating my good performance in school.
Let me take a detour from this to tell you till that fateful day, the cricket bats used were generally the flat painted ones made of country wood, which surprisingly could be bought off a kitchen vessels store where they would be stored in an oversized bucket. For those who could afford them good cricket bats from sports shops made of ordinary wood and passed of as oil bats. These bats often had no balance and the ones we used to play with seemed to be bottom heavy and you tend to feel the bat to be distinctly behind the stroke, also they put a heavy load on the shoulders.
By now you would have guessed what was in the gift, a genuine oil bat made of Kashmir willow with an autograph of Sunil Gavaskar on it. The bat was a real beauty even to an untrained beholder in me. The lightness of the willow coupled with a beautiful balance ensured smooth stroke play and the bat was the envy of those in the street.
Needless to say, I was involved in all the matches as I had the best bat around. Fortunately or unfortunately my skills did not compare to my bat and I was normally accommodated at the tail end of the batting line up. Its not that I was a bad batsman, its just that I believed that a ball is meant to be hit and considering our playing area this meant more lost balls, broken windows and frayed tempers, not to mention diminishing bank balances.
My last vivid memory of street cricket was from my house in Annanagar. The playing area was restricted to the off-side only as I favoured the leg side for all my big shots and this was meant to minimize damages. During the match I some how played one glorious inside out lofted extra cover drive on one knee, the kind that would have made Rahul Dravid proud. Still on one knee and having my follow through frozen to admire my handiwork, I followed the trajectory of the ball as it gracefully arced its way through the air where it was rudely interrupted by the only open glass window high up on the second floor. What happened next is still blurred to me. I have vague recollections of an irate neighbour complaining to my dad and some loud “POP music” from my dad and a bill of around 500 rupees. That incidentally was the last cricketing action seen in my colony for over a decade now.
And what happened to the bat?
Well it was handed down to my brother, who was in the classical mould of batting. His forward defense would bore me to death but would be a coach’s delight. The bat used to be with him in bed, he used to sleep with a bat and two cricket balls. I understood "Eat cricket, sleep cricket" from him (often waking up with a very uncomfortable cricket ball under me). The bat gracefully aged and was retired sometime by my brother.
Only he knows its current whereabouts.
PS: We now live in Chennai 600 040