I used to play too, when I was little. Me and my brother would take turns batting and bowling, often inside the shady coolness of the house during some of those long summer afternoons that never seemed to end.
Sometimes, in the evening, we would take it outside to the porch, but never did I play cricket outside in the street. There’d be lots of boys from all over the neighborhood; fat boys and tall boys, boys with runny noses and straggly mustaches, boys of all kinds. And if there was one thing they didn’t like, it was a girl playing cricket. So I mostly kept to myself. I’d sometimes form a two member team with my best friend from across the street, and we’d play on an imaginary pitch right next to the ‘stupid’ boys’. We always ended up back inside or to another patch of the street though, be it by means of name calling or shoving or punching.
As luck would have it, I was banned from indoor cricket as well one day, when I hit an incredibly glorious sixer which hit my mother’s favorite lamp. I was in mid cheer when I heard the smash.
It went pretty much downhill from there. My school displayed a frustrating amount of insensitivity when it came to girls playing any kind of sport. We considered P.E. to be a free period, when we could eat and ride on the merry-go-round and gossip away like (nine-year-old) aunties, all to our hearts content. When the despicable school board decided (in the eight grade) that boys and girls must be separated lest they indulge in morally defaming activities, a female sports teacher was given charge of us. She dressed in baggy track pants and shirts and her haircut was like that of The Beatles in their glory days. She was an absolute monster. She picked out a select few favorites the first time we had a class with her, and would always, always, choose those girls for sports competitions and would lavish all her attentions on teaching them new techniques.
I was, needless to say, not one of the lucky few. I did, initially, present some hope. I happen to be tall and she expected me to be a basketball whiz. But of course, once the ball was in my hands I had no idea what to do with it (despite having watched several NBA games with my brother when I was smaller- LeBron James was my favorite.). I just looked like an awkward gangly kid who didn’t want to be there.
I spent more than three years in similar agony. Two times a week, we would all be forced to play a sport and I would hate every minute of it. Pretending to be ill did not work; the constant threat of being sent to The Office loomed like a Grindylow ready to pounce, waiting in distant murky waters.
During basketball, all I did was follow the crowd from one end of the court to another.
During dodge ball, I managed to avoid being hit by the ball by twirling and randomly stumbling around. I was usually one of the last ones to leave. I pretty much sucked at throwing the ball though. But I still managed to somehow scrape through.
Cricket was the absolute worst. It was a nightmare. I hated days when we were supposed to play cricket, and, having gained notoriety because of my public displays of sports challenged-ness, I was usually one of the last ones to be picked.
When it was our team’s turn to bat, I could breathe a little easy. I could do whatever I wanted to do until my turn came, and then all I had to do was get bowled out so I could return to whatever I was doing. I did try, don’t think I didn’t. I’d stand with one foot behind the other as instructed, almost covering the wickets, and when I saw the ball flying towards me I’d swing the bat with all my might, sometimes the ball connected with the bat. Most of the times, though, it connected with the wickets and someone else came to replace me. The real nightmare, though, was when my team was supposed to bowl. I wasn’t exactly an expert at bowling (I’d just throw the ball in the general direction of the bats-girl, my too-tall body looking awkward, my arms flailing like windmills) but it was fielding that really ticked me off. It was the most boring thing in the world. I’d just stand in my assigned position like a fool, arms hanging by my sides, squinting my eyes up against the Sun or drawing on the dusty ground with the toes of my shoes. The ball didn’t usually reach me (I suspect I was strategically placed so this was exactly what would happen) and if by any chance it did, I was found looking in the opposite direction, looking at kids chasing each other. Or up at the sky, making out shapes in the clouds. Or maybe just staring off into space, thinking of food. Anyway, I almost never caught the ball on time, and when it had finally reached the vicinity of the wickets, the other team had scored more that a couple of runs, all thanks to me.
Cricket was dreadful. I swore myself off of cricket once O Levels ended, and haven’t attempted to play it again, and I don’t have even a modicum of interest in the ongoings of the cricket world. If there’s an interesting match going on (read:
Pakistan versus ) I may watch it, but otherwise, I couldn’t care less. There is certainly a lot of hullabaloo surrounding the World Cup these days. I’m not following any of it. What I’ll do is, I’ll sit down with a plate of chips and watch whatever major match India plays in next. Pakistan
I'm hoping it's the final. And yes, I want us to win.