Cricket in Rural India

Rocket Raja By Rocket Raja, 5th Jun 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Cricket was one of the gifts that the Englishmen gave to the Indians, when they left India. They call cricket, 'THE GENTLEMAN'S GAME'. But Ironically, not all of India perceived it the same way. Read more to find out! :D

Village Vendetta

For a guy who spent nineteen years in the city, staying in a remote village was a challenge in itself, leave alone trying to mingle with the urchins living there. My parents had planned a trip to my ancestral village and had expressed their desire for me to accompany them. When parents usually express desires, it means you are left with no choice but to succumb to them. Putting behind me a month full of fun and sacrificing the next two weeks for my ‘beloved’ granny, I left for the village.

As always, I was greeted with a cascade of kisses and cheek-pinching even before I set foot inside their house. I figured I would have to fix that smile in my face for the next few days to prevent my grandparents from having the slightest doubt regarding their hospitality. By the thirtieth minute, I was done exchanging pleasantries, by the first hour, I was done bathing, at the end of two hours, I was filled till my neck with granny’s food and after 4 hours, woke up to stare at 15 days of desperation boredom and uselessness.

I set out for a jog with my shoes and tracks on. There were no roads laid, and the only things which ran on petrol were outdated models of mopeds straining to counter the unruly terrain. Jogging on a stony road, I was beginning to appreciate the invention of shoes when I drew myself to a halt.

My eyes lighted when I saw them playing cricket. I ran in as fast as I could only to find that they had already started a match. Hiding my disappointment, I told them I wanted to join. They took me in as a joker. (For those who haven’t touched a bat in their life, a joker is someone who bats for both teams)

The team which batted first comprised of kids whose ability, I discovered, was in no way related to their age. The opening bowler was clearly the strongest of the lot, and had arms the size of pillars. (No wonder this comparison is clichéd because that is what I felt would describe him best.) A kid who was half my height, walked past me to the crease when I put a hand on his shoulder and asked him if he really wanted to open the innings. Apparently the kid hadn’t liked me touching him. He glanced at my hand and I withdrew. He looked at me and signaled to go back. I did as I was told.

Rural kids don’t take advices. Lesson Learnt.

When the pillar-arms came charging in to cannon the poor kid with a rubber ball, I closed my eyes bracing myself to hear a cry, but what I heard was the spanking of rubber by wood as the kid launched the ball straight up over the compound wall of the school. There came a cheer from his team-mates for having scored a six. From then on, I knew better than to voice my concern for the kids. They played better without it.
After the kid got out, there were similar kids with equally surprising talents. For a place which had one TV every street, the number of shots that the kids had imbibed from watching international cricket was staggering. These were kids with raw talent. They didn’t try to make their cover drives look elegant, nor did they give the forward defensive shot much thought. Nothing else mattered to these budding players as long as the ball went searing to greet the fence.

Though I stayed put on the compound wall, waiting for my chance to bat, I wasn’t bored for a single second. Be it imitating the helicopter shot which was the Indian captain’s signature shot, or stopping the bowler in his run up to wink at some of the school girls walking past, the antics of these batsmen were hilarious. So much so that I had to stifle a couple of guffaws to stop my teammates from throwing dirty glances at me.
Finally, after half an hour of biding my time, I finally got onto the crease. It was the last over of our innings. Pillar-arms was at the other end, waiting to bowl his final over. Being trained in my coaching camps, I didn’t have to be afraid of the bulky bowler and so I decided to have a go at him.

The last over went for 23 runs, and 6 balls had made me a hero in the urchin camp.

The second innings began without much delay. Unsurprisingly, the big boys sailed through half the target with brute force and by sheer virtue of their size. It was surprising how many varieties these small kids had in their deliveries as they managed to bamboozle these bullies on a number of occasions. There was one spinner, the tallest of the kids whose deliveries were nearly unplayable. He rattled through the batting lineup of the bullies with ease.

The scorecard which had read 47-1 now read 58-7 four overs later.

We needed 12 runs from the last over and it was me versus the mystery-man, (it was how the bullies began to refer to the spinner.) The first ball was a flighted delivery outside my leg stump. My feet sprang forward and my eyes lit up as I lifted my bat to heave the ball out of the field. I was almost sure of the contact that I couldn’t believe myself that I had edged the ball.

The ball shot straight up above me. It went a good thirty feet up in the air. The wicket-keeper pouched it without the slightest discomfort.

The bullies had lost not only the match, but along with it, five hundred rupees.

The sun was now going into hiding behind the distant hills sandwiching the village. Bidding them goodbye, I was about to leave when a grip on my shoulder stopped me.

It was pillar-arms.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“Home, why?”

“You lost the match for us you…” And he said words which are best left unelaborated.

All I saw was a giant rising fist, and when it came down on my face, everything went black.

When I woke up, I was the only person in the ground. As I managed to find my way home, my mom was appalled to find a huge bruise on my right cheek when I entered the house. While I let the family fuss over my swollen cheek, I ran the evening all over again in my head.

This was how the rural India had perceived the game of cricket. It would be interesting to see if one of these guys made it to the national team. If today’s match was anything to go by, Team India would be one helluva team!

Tags

Ball, Bat, Cricket, Funny, Raw, Rough, Rural, Village, Wicket

Meet the author

author avatar Rocket Raja
A teenager with a wandering mind, restless fingers and loads of time. Hoping to do a good job.

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Comments

author avatar Shaunak
5th Jun 2012 (#)

Interesting, but if u see indian team players, they truly are gentleman and usually get bullied by Players of other countries. An interesting thing is Usually Players from cities and who are well off are more aggressive - Saurav Gangully who changed the way we play cricket or recent players like gangully. But it would be fun to see our players responding to aggression with aggression..

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author avatar Rocket Raja
5th Jun 2012 (#)

Yeah true. But gone are those days when sledging used to be SO open and frank. They've mellowed down nowadays because of more cameras and mikes in the field i suppose.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Jun 2012 (#)

Whilst Cricket is the Gentleman's game it is rarely played by gentlemen anymore. Few professionals act that way anymore - hence the troubles with betting and bribes over the past few years. Even in village games in England the gentlemanly spirit seems to have gone - it is all about winning at all costs.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
5th Jun 2012 (#)

Interesting post. Thank you for sharing.

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author avatar Denise O
20th Jun 2012 (#)

Nice play by play of events. I know squat about cricket but, I enjoyed the read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Rocket Raja
20th Jun 2012 (#)

Cricket is a wonderful game. Though its a tad longer than other games, you'd love it. Thanks! :)

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