Monday, October 23, 2006

One-boy cricket.

Now that I’m in the cricket memory mode let me take you back to the days of my childhood, circa late forties. The third floor flat at 233 Khetwadi Main Road as I’ve written before was a terrace flat. I used to be a cricket fan (but not a fanatic) then. I was among the few in my school friends to have attended the famous Bombay Pentangulars contested among five teams (Hindus, Parsis, Mohammedans, Europeans and the Rest) at the Brabourne Stadium either in 1944 or 1945 The tournament used to be held, if memory serves, in winter (November-December) in a festive mood. Lots of fun, lots of friendly ribbing between various groups. Then, in 1946, the tournament was discontinued as a result of the long-running campaign against its politically incorrect format and team make-up. I even saw the ‘unofficial’ Test match (1946) between India and the Australian Services Cricket Team, skippered by Lindsay Hassett and featuring Keith Miller as well as the one against West Indies in either 1948 or 1949. I used to play cricket on our terrace with my nephews acting out an entire Test match between India and Australia, India and England and so forth. We used to keep scores and had spots marked on the wall with so many runs earned and of course we could score by running between wickets. We played either with a rubber ball or a cork ball and lost a lot many of them when they cleared the wooden ‘fence’ of the terrace. There was a little shop selling odds and ends run by a bohari gentleman, next to the Dreamlamd (previously Krishna) Cinema, within easy walking distance of my house where we would run to replace the lost ball. (We also used to use wooden balls to prevent loss by bouncing.) One notable memory of those days is that we had to wear a sweater at four in the afternoon while playing on the terrace because it used to be windy and chilly in November, December, January and even early February. My cricket at home was played not just on the terrace, though. There was a one-boy version of it which I played by my lonesome self in the six-foot wide passage that dissected our flat. This was my invention and I should have rightfully taken a copyright on it. In the one-boy version of cricket, an entire Test match could be played enacting the roles of 22 players in about an hour. The wall at the east end of the passage would act as the wicket and the opposite wall would be the bowler’s end. A rubber ball would be bounced off the bowling wall and I would ‘open’ each of the four innings in style and keep score as well. A piece of paper and pencil were kept at ready on the dinner table nearby. Insofar as I was the only player or play actor, the rules happened to be a bit too flexible as you can well imagine. All in all, though, I recall having a lot of fun playing one-boy cricket with myself.

No comments: