Thursday, May 24, 2018
facebook

google plus
Weekly Pullouts » Himachal Tribune

Posted at: May 12, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: May 12, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)

Cricket in clouds & selfless side of players

Village boys, no doubt they’re life-long friends and neighbours. No egos are involved and no expectations of a century

Nancy Metashvili

As everyone knows, India is cricket mad. I’ve seen impromptu cricket games in deserted Kolkata streets when a strike has kept them car free. The children come out, bats in hand! Joy abounds!

I’ve watched games on the wet packed sand on a Gokarna beach, where errant balls have to be fetched out of the sea.

In the days before massive all-year round tourism in McLeodganj, young men used to get out bats and balls on Temple Road when traffic was nil. These of course is quite problematical, as the right hand side of the street is on a steep hillside, and out of bound balls are lost forever.

Then there is the new (built in ’03) splendid and famous Cricket stadium down in lower Dharamsala. It is visible from my balcony, and though I’ve never attended a game there, I see it clearly when a match is on. It is lit up like an over the top Diwali venue.

Recently, India’s “living cricket legend”, Sachin Tendulkar came to town. He and his wife, Anjali, were up here to visit their son Arjun as he trains here for a month. There is a National Cricket Academy Camp going on for young players to hone their skills. Let’s hope they enjoy the altitude, 1,457 m, and our May weather, which has been alternating scorching and blustery.

Arjun’s famous father did indeed have a meeting with Dharamsala’s world famous Dalai Lama. It is said that they agreed on the necessity for harmony and the promotion of happiness. 

But that is another world from the small village matches held high up in the mountains. Two days ago, I was hiking around in the area up above Bhagsu. Along the path between Upper Bhagsu and Upper Dharamkot, as you clamber up the rocky path under the soaring vistas of skies, forests and the very heavens, there is a flat cleared bit of earth. Yes, of course, it is used for cricket!

There was a group of lively lads out in the fresh air on their free day, wielding their bats, bowling under cloudy skies, chasing the ball, and laughing. Serious. Who knows what talent they have, I certainly don’t! (Confession — I’m a football fan. World Cup finds me enthralled. The Ashes? That’s another world for me…) One explanation, aimed at foreigners perhaps, is the old humorous classic “You have two sides, one out in the field, and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in, and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in, and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.”

Whew! Football is easier to understand — there’s a ball, and people kick it.

But this is India and all the lads love cricket, and though there are never 11 on a side, and a younger child always needs to be on hand to hop down the hillside to chase errant balls, they have fun.

And watching them, I felt solidarity, pleasure and a gentle glow of maternal love. Village boys, no doubt they’re life-long friends and neighbours. No egos are involved and no expectations of a century. No sledging. (Well, maybe. Who knows?) But there were wide smiles and working muscles. The rain would come soon but as they gathered there in a rocky boulder-lumpy patch of waste ground, their hearts were as big as the batters down in the famous stadium all lit up expensively down below. 

I bet they were having more fun.

In the days before massive all-year round tourism in McLeodganj, young men used to get out bats and balls on Temple Road when traffic was nil. These of course is quite problematical, as the right hand side of the street is on a steep hillside, and out of bound balls are lost forever. Then there is the new (built in ’03) splendid and famous Cricket stadium down in lower Dharamsala. It is visible from my balcony, and though I’ve never attended a game there, I see it clearly when a match is on. It is lit up like an over the top Diwali venue.

(Nancy Metashvili, from Alaska, is a globe trotter, writer, musician and poet)

COMMENTS

All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On