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!