Cricket in a box!

Sounds like a Jack in a Box, right? You must be wondering reading the title of the blog, what the heck is this? We, of course, all know cricket. It originated in England, imported in India by British during pre-independence era. We all know the story now, and how India is a power house in world cricket. We also know how cricket has evolved from test cricket format to one-day format, to T20 format, over the generations. Box cricket is another step in the evolution.

Many of us have played cricket during our childhood. Some of us may, still, be playing. Cricket in the childhood days, of course, begin, in the lanes, and by-lanes of housing complexes, apartments, and in the old days of chawls. We called it gully cricket. Many a times, to suite the conditions, we would have our rules, or twisted rules, to meet the need of the day. The only rule is you need a ball and a bat, that is it. Other day, I participated in a fun team event, where we went to play box cricket. So what is it? Simply put, it is a format of cricket game which is played indoors, in a box, which is made of nets. It looks similar to net practices cricket played carry out, which many times we watch, before the actual match or during training sessions. It is also called as Indoor Cricket, since, of course, it is played indoors, in covered arena.

We had gone to XLR8 box cricket arena in the campus of Ishanya Mall in Pune. There seems to be other arenas as well in Pune, one being at Seasons Mall. It is not surprising that this format has evolved into a fun activity for corporate world, and groups alike, visiting malls. The setting is perfect. There is light, there is music and sound, everyone playing has to participate, and it is not very heavy on body. This format also naturally is played in more serious fashion too, in the formal leagues, both nationally and internationally. As we walked into the arena, which was pre-booked by us for  a 3 hour slot, we spotted 2 boxes in the arena, covered with nets, pitch with a blue color mats, and rest of the cricket field with green mats. We, of course, used only one box.

As we settled in, the XLR8 instructor walked in and took us to a side where he explained us the rules of the game, how it is played. He also mentioned that India was to play UAE in Indoor Cricket World Cup. I was surprised to learn this. For us cricket crazy nation, I had not noticed anything around indoor cricket world cup in the newspapers or even on the news channels. This was the first time I was hearing it. Anyways, the instructors took us through the rules. And let me tell you, they are very different than conventional cricket, and made suitable for the format, and setting in which it is played, keeping fun element in mind too. For example, the non-striker batsman, waits half-way of the pitch, unlike regular cricket where the player has to be at the non-striker end near the bowler’s side. Another rule was very interesting, no matter where you play your shot, you need run, get runs. If you happen to not run three consecutive times, runs are deducted from team’s total. You can visit wiki article for more information on the rules.

There was a TV monitor behind the wicket-keeper, mounted on the 25 feet stand. The facilitator or in a simple term, umpire, also was sitting on that stand. He had a mic in his his hand, and was controlling the proceeding of the game. He also, of course, was updating the status of the game, which was getting displayed on the TV monitor. All this provided a very different flavor to the game, and soon we started enjoying it. We were provided with the gloves to be worn during batting. Each batting pair would get 2 overs to play. Each person on the fielding side has to bowl an over. The non-players, or players who were waiting for their turn, had space to sit outside the box, close to the whole proceeding, which also was enjoyable. We played 3 matches, with eight-a-side and two teams, in the span of 3 hours of our time at XLR8. It was out and out fun. Only one complain on XLR8 is that there does not seem to be facility of providing refreshments for players unfortunately. This would have been great addition to the facilities they have.

A bit of search on Internet on this format of the game tells you few things. It seems that Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) is not yet into indoor cricket, despite the fact that current edition of indoor world cup going on, in Dubai, is in its tenth edition. In the western countries, indoor sports, has been very famous for long time now. During my last visit to US, I had gone to watch indoor ice hockey match. Anyways, it seems, for rest of us, who are just fun-players, we have these indoor options for various forms of games, not only cricket. Go ahead and enjoy, indoor cricket, if you have not, so far!

 

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Watching Live: IPL T20

Most of us here in this part of world are cricket fans. We love watching cricket matches, playing it whenever we get chance and wherever we can. Cricket watching on television is very common now. I belong to generation where we did not have televisions. I still remember listening to live cricket commentary on radio during 1984 cricket world cup, especially that epic final, which we won, from nowhere.

Watching cricket live at the stadiums had not still caught up these days, though that option was always there since beginning but only few can manage to watch live. I live in Pune, and we have not had many international cricket matches happening in the city. Till few ago, we had only one stadium, middle of the city, where I remember few international one day cricket matches have been played, especially, 1986 and even 1996 world cup matches as far I remember. The wiki article lists down the matches played here. I never was able to watch any of the live.

Few years ago, revolution of sorts happened due to the introduction of 20-20 overs format of the game, and also league cricket. To add to this, 3-4 ago, another cricket stadium came up near Pune. It was named as Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium. That stadium became home ground for IPL league’s team Pune Warriors. I happened to watch cricket live, finally, in one of the editions of IPL few years back in 2012.  It was month of May, this particular match was night match, and was between Pune Warriors and Royal Challengers Bengaluru. We had returned from our Bengaluru trip in the same morning. And our loyalties were divided. Another reason for loyalty going for toss was Chris Gayle who was part of Royal Challengers Bengaluru. We headed the stadium in much anticipation in the evening. The anticipation was, of course, for Gayle, and his fireworks.

After battling the traffic, and long walk on the raw, unpaved road, along with security checks, we landed at the stadium. It was still an hour to go before the match started. No sooner than we seated ourselves, it started pouring. Remember it was May. The summer’s hottest month, and also a month of pre-monsoon rains, showers.  There was a chaos at the stadium. Everyone was looking for shade, no one was prepared for the rains. We finally got hold of a shelter to protect ourselves from the downpour, with thoughts of match getting washed out running in my mind. This was our first live cricket event, and I was not ready to let it get washed this way, without witnessing even a single ball being played. But our patience paid off. The rains ceded soon, and the match resumed.

It was Royal Challengers Bengaluru who batted first. All eyes were, of course, on Chris Gayle, who arrived in huge cheers to the crease. He did play few shots, and made a good fifty. Watching all this live is quite electrifying and creates adrenaline effect, you are part of that crowd in no time, cheering, shouting, whistling. The camera on the rope is something which we were able to experience, as we saw it moving, swinging from one area to another, over the crowds. We also got to watch Murali’s bowling live as well. Pune lost the match, as they could not hit the target, though. Fortunately, we were allowed to take our binoculars inside, hence we could make use of it.

Watching matches live and on television are two different things. You go to stadium, to enjoy the time and environment there and not so much of cricket. And that is what we did that night. This is true for any sports, I believe. I had captured similar moments of watching ice hockey match in USA here. Hope you like that.

Memories of 1987 Cricket World Cup

It’s cricket fever these days. World cup is underway. Last weekend, India beat traditional rivals Pakistan. Today, we are playing against South Africa and we are about to win that. I am kind of down the getting memory lane as my mind rushed back to memories of 1987 world cup. Two decades have passed. This was first world cup hosted by India. Kapil Dev was at tipping point of his career. Having won the earlier edition of the world cup(in 1983) beating West Indies, India started as favorite team. It was called Reliance World Cup being the main sponsors.

It is pre-1991 era, few years before liberalization, globalization, privatization reforms took place. Color television had just started becoming common after its introduction in 1982 in India. Still only one television channel ie. Doordarshan. I was in college in Pune. We friends would typically walk to the college after getting down at Shivajinagar railway station and would walk through area which had Maharashtra Police residential area and also training facilities. The area had one town hall where a color television was kept in a corner. We would stop by on the way to and watch matches along with jam-packed town hall .

During those days of college, I had acquired some skills in drawing pencil sketches of personalities by looking at photos. There was a very famous weekly tabloid called The Illustrated Weekly of India, which ran a special issue covering world cup. The issue had a full picture of Kapil Dev, who was captain of team and also star all-rounder who was expected to repeat the history of earlier world cup. Sharing that sketch below for you.

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Also have shared Ravi Shastri’s sketch, who also was in full form that time, having a played a key role in Benson Hedges world championship couple of years ago in 1985.

As we all know, India lost that famous semi final match with England and were thrown out of the tournament crushing hopes of all cricket fans.

What is your world cup memory? Feel free to share.