Backyard Cricket

I grew up in a small town in Tamilnadu with my 6 older brothers and the initial seeds for what later on became an obsession – Cricket, were sown there. My brothers were part of the local cricket team and used to go play practice matches almost every weekend and I would tag along. Sometimes, we would play in our cramped, narrow backyard as well.

The stone you see on the left side, is used for washing clothes and doubled up as stumps. I took this photo during my recent visit to India and the backyard has changed a little bit. The stumps have been moved and there is little ledge now on the right side, that never used to be! My eldest brother would chuck the ball (it was a cork ball) from the far end and there were 2 fielders not too far from the bat (at silly point and forward short leg) and one at backward short leg and another at short mid on. The idea was not to make runs but survive for as long as you can. If you get caught, or bowled, or beaten three times in a row, or hit on the leg twice, or the ball hits the wall without bouncing on the ground, you are out. This taught you to play straight and play with soft hands. And one always played off the back foot, play the ball as late as possible. This game was a feature every weekend and we had tons of fun with it. I am sure all of you have such stories too! Share it.

Talking about cricket in the backyard, Sri Lanka and New Zealand are playing two T20 games in Miami, Florida this weekend. It will be first in more than a century, a game of cricket between international sides is taking place in the U.S.  From what I can remember, the last time this happened in the U.S. was in the 1880’s. The teams flew from the T20 World cup in the Caribbean straight to Florida and in the days leading up to the games, the NZ players, apparently checked out a game of  Cricket’s ugly cousin, Baseball. They got a chance to mingle with the players of the Florida Marlins during the pre-game batting and fielding practice sessions. There is a wise saying – “Cricket is for men, while boys play baseball” and is proved thus (via Cricinfo, from Miami Herald).

“That’s just crazy,” the second-baseman [of the Florida Marlins] Dan Uggla said at the thought of playing an entire game without a glove. His shortstop colleague Hanley Ramirez had some advice: “They were telling me how they break fingers and hands all the time. I told them, ‘Maybe in the future you should think about wearing gloves’.

Oh by the way, if you are interested in watching these games, ESPN is broadcasting them online for free. We are one step closer to our dreams, Gentlemen – Cricket in the USA.

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