When youngsters talk about playing street cricket, I can completely relate to their experiences. I know what it feels like finishing your homework as quickly as possible in order to join your cricket buddies outside. Neither the scorching sun nor the freezing cold could stop us from playing.
To bat first was always a privilege; and for girls it came with some added benefits like “try ball” if my cousins’ parents were around. “She’s your sister. Don’t be too hard on her.” My uncle would tell his sons as I’d smile victoriously. He’d then become the umpire and give “no ball” every time a girl would get dismissed, which made him our favourite uncle.
However, on the unlucky days when he’d not be around, we wouldn’t give up easily even then. Soon enough, we became as skilled as our male cousins. After that, our teams started to featuring both genders instead of the girls vs. boys earlier.
With our mom watching us from the balcony, we’d literally spent the entire day outside, playing our own “tournaments” and “test matches”. Our road pitch would get interrupted by cars periodically and our game would be paused as we would watch each other’s impatient faces waiting for the driver to hurry through.
“Out of the park” type of shots was what we dreaded as batsman unlike in actual cricket. Fetching the ball or getting out would remain as our only two options, so we used to try and keep it a little less aggressive.
Whoever used to own the bat and ball was considered as “the king” and we had to become their slaves for a chance to play. Wickets were always made out of bricks and the day we got our first wooden stumps and bails was one of the most festive ones. Experts in taping the tennis balls, we were delighted beyond words when our cousin managed to buy a real red ball one day. We couldn’t take our eyes off the glistening apple red beauty but the first blow with it in the thigh was enough for me to snap back into the real world.
And the street would turn into a battlefield when we forgot to decide if LBW would be considered out or not.
Our heated matches would be paused when the real ones used to get aired. The same anxiety, passion, and thrill would run through our veins nonetheless.
But one day, I held that bat and swung that ball for the last time. My higher studies got the better of this craze of mine. One day, my cricket fanaticism got reduced to merely watching cricket.
I do go out sometimes now as well, but those absolutely precious days of regular fun and games are missed dearly.
Whenever I pass by a ground or a road where children are nurturing their zeal for cricket, a piece of my heart pumps a little too hard, telling me it wants to go back in time, at least once, to experience it all over again.