“We have already lost five balls, I request you gentlemen to please return it so that we can continue with the game,” yelled the commentator on the microphone.
Soon a couple of policemen were seen roughing up a person allegedly for stealing the ball.
Those were scenes from the Coca-Cola Delhi Daredevils Cricket Dhamaka — a tennis ball cricket tournament conducted at the capital’s Ramlila Maidan.
And if it wasn’t for those khaki-clad gentlemen, the event wasn’t very different from the game that you would have played as kid.
Christened mohalla cricket, it would have brought back memories of your past — being beaten up for smashing your neighbour’s windowpanes, ending up playing on the road with bricks serving as wickets, being sent back declared out on a shot that crossed the sidewalk — the form of cricket we enjoyed playing before the idiot box turned us into experts by airing international matches live.
Back to the basics, cricket is just a bat-and-ball team sport played for fun. That’s exactly what GMR Sports had in mind when they conducted the tournament over the weekend, giving people of the walled-city area some good entertainment.
Played under lights the tournament saw as many as eight local clubs participate and attracted a crowd of 5000 on occasions. The rules were bent to the point where they were just inches away from snapping. But then, when one has to fit in as many as five games in a span of four hours, no one really minds.
In each 10-over match, played with a tennis ball on matting, bowlers received Rs 300 for each maiden over. For batsmen, it was hits to the fence that fetched cash rewards.
But what beat all was the rule about batsmen retiring after they reached an individual score of 30.
Then, of course, incidents of the ball being stolen and kids getting lost and the announcements that ensued only increased the fun of what one calls mohalla cricket.