Confluence South Asian Perspectives|November 2019
In India, cricket is all-pervasive. Kipling’s ‘flannelled fools’ are to be seen day in and day out on our television screens. Though, apart from being attired in pure whites, you will also find them in blues, yellows, greens and a variety of rainbow hues, depending on the variant of the game that is being dished out - Test cricket, ODIs, T20s, Indian Premier League (IPL). Give me excess of it, is the cry. It is not traditional cricket, however, that presently engages my attention. For that matter, it is not even French Cricket we played in school that concerns me. Remember French Cricket? You stood still, your feet unmoving with only a bat to protect your legs, and a ring of fielders to throw a worn tennis ball at your legs. If the ball catches any part of your leg without first touching the bat, you are out. If you manage to hit the ball, eluding the fielder, you twirled the bat round and round your legs, as fast as your hands would allow, and each successful circular motion earned you a run. The fielder, retrieving the ball, can also attempt to ‘run you out’ by striking your leg while you essayed a roundhouse swing without moving your legs. A skillful and challenging game, French Cricket, but my thoughts are on an entirely different cricketing pastime, one that required no skill whatsoever. If you were born after 1970, chances are you may not have heard of it.
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