A day in a life of Gully Cricketer
The hurt ego
It is 4:30 in the evening. I can hear the stadium roaring with noise. Players are on the ground. Stretching themselves, warming up for the match. It's going to be an important match. The pride of our gully should be intact. Last time, that team from neighbouring colony won and they have mocked me every time they got a chance. Even in the school bus!
But what is the best bowler of our gully doing?
Holding a pencil; pretending to study but alert enough to keep an eye on dear mother. Finally, the long hot summer made my mother blink her eyes longer than she would like to. And whoosh, I am gone with the winds. Look at me! Coming out of my own house like a thief without making any noise else, mother will wake up and the pride of gully would have to wait for some more days to return.
You think it’s easy
Finally, I reach the ground with a serious face only suited to me as a senior player. I am 13. Come on!! I need to guide these 9-year-olds. Poor souls, they dropped too many catches last time and our pride slipped because of that. Look at them, making noise, practicing undertaker's moves while everything is at stake. God! I can't even drop them from the team because of two reasons:
a. These kids will complain to their mother and they will complain to my mother.
b. We need fielders.
I scream at the top of my lungs and everyone can hear me. But they ignore and continue what they are doing. After about 10 minutes of antagonizing wait, the rivals came. There are 10 other matches going simultaneously on the ground.
We have three stumps and one guy walked 22 steps to mark the 22 yards pitch. Yeah yeah, Its always 22 yards this way; doesn't matter if you are 10 years old or 25 years old. Makes sense actually, the 22 yards should be directly proportional to your arm's strength.
Some guys are fighting over bowler's end wicket. There is a small patch of grass in the ground and it was decided the fielder fielding over the grass patch has to volunteer his chappal for the bowler's end wicket.
The show begins
All the 9-year-olds are given 3 easy deliveries and then they are retired hurt. If someone disagrees, we threaten him with a fast bowl and there they are, scared, ready to get retired hurt from batting then actually getting hurt.
One player of the batting team will act as an umpire and believe me, its the hardest job. Its more of a diplomatic post than the actual umpiring. An umpire is expected to foster good relation with opponents as well as increase a run or two in his team's score every now and then. The testing phase of umpiring is when he has to turn a full toss resulting in catch out of a good batsman into a no ball. Well, run out is by default a not out until it's so obvious that your conscience starts pressurising you to give it a runout.
The chaotic state of our Eden Garden
As i said, the field, our beloved Eden Garden, is in a state of chaos. There are too many matches going on. Under 50, under 30, under 20, under 15, under 10; there is a bell curve of the distribution of the age of the players. And there was a time when we did run out by collecting the tennis ball of some other team while the ball of our match was safely outside the boundary.
By the way? What was the boundary? On your right, Can you see that cow dung behind that red shirt guy? In the front side, we have that patch of grass. On left, we have the stumps of the other team playing. Now as we know, there is a virtual circle passing through these three non co-linear lines. We will take a huge compass and keep the center at 11th yard from the stumps on the pitch, we will draw a circle passing through the cow dung, the stumps of other team and the grass patch. And Eureka; we have a boundary. No run behind the wicket. Wicket-keeper is from the batting team.
Chucking. Sorry! What?
At a crucial stage of the game, our bowler is bowling well. He bowls faster and what! The opposition umpire is raising an objection. Umpire says the bowler is chucking. All the fielding players at once run to the umpire and sensing the danger, the batting team players run there too. There is a risk of a fight as we are telling them that everyone chucks here and it was pre-communicated. Jhunna, from the batting team, has chucked and bowled faster than our bowler. We did not object then. Just because they are losing now, they are objecting. What nonsense. Ah, this is a moral victory for sure. The opposition is scared.
The sweet revenge
And we won. Our team is poking fun at them. And the 12 years old senior from their team has come complaining to me about the kids yelling "loser loser". He is the same guy from my school bus. I ask kids to stop calling them loser while I yell, "loser, I asked them to stop calling you by your real name."