VCL(Verandah Cricket League)

This picture is of my verandah in my adayar apartment.We moved in here in 1990 and stayed for 10 years, which was almost more than 50% of my childhood.I had taken this photo sometime back when I went there to collect rent from my tenant.This had been my cricket pitch since I was in class 3 and seeing this photo a flood of emotions stall my senses. The door on the left was my house and the the wall seperating both the doors was the stump.I used to get behind the door grill of my house and used to keep my face at the grill door,resting on the vertical bars.....all for my own simple version of stump vision,which was a huge hit those days when Prime sports used to show action replays using stump vision.

When the third umpire was introduced could 2nd floor be left behind? We used to have three lights to the right of the corridor of which one was a permanent fuse, while the other 2 lights were used by the person who was not batting/bowling to give decesions by switching on the respective lights(vetti scene).Gosh we tried and imitated whatever we could to get a sense of reality into the game we played.

There were days when my mothers fair and lovely creamed also doubled up as the zinc cream players to wear around their noses,especially the likes of Terry alderman and Craig Mcdermott,and I hardly hesitated to blatantly copy them

To celebrate my 10th birthday uniquely I asked my mother to buy a plain white T shirt and asked her to paint the India colours on it, typically resembling the 1992 Indian World cup T shirt,with India in front and Kartik at the back,and it was with this shirt I used to play cricket aping a tendulkar,prabhakar,azharuddin whenever the game demanded it. Over the years I had perfected the art of the square cut in the narrow alley to the left, as one had to play carefully to not let the ball fall out of the corridor(failing which you were out), and not to hit any glass pane,which also automatically disqualified you if you hit the pane thrice.

To come to think of it, I was a really mad cricket freak,wanting everything the players did out there and when I reflect back to those days, I see total innocence those days, in the way life used to be.Another of my famous antics were to play cricket with coloured pads in the corridor,which were subjected to my mothers fabric paint but why on earth would you need pads,when you are playing with the tennis ball? well, rationale and logic was not the in-thing those days.

Those were the days when Waquar and Wasim used the reverse swing to good effect and could we be far behind? We guys too started applying reverse swing tactics to a plastic ball :-) , by wetting one side of the ball and making the other side dry and we hoped to create reverse swing out of the Ice cream plastic ball.The ball would even otherwise swing, but we enjoyed farting that the effect was because our efforts on the ball and luckily there was no Darrel Hair to reprimand us, though our parents would scoff at our seriousness in the claim of ball tampering.The tennis ball just needed to be drenched in water and incase it was raining outside and the ball fell down to the ground floor due to a mishit, this was a welcome move as a wetter ball would bounce like a demon and come faster of the verandah, flummoxxing most folks,who were batting.I still cant belive in the small verandah that was there, we were running runs with 2 fielders posted in that verandah...

Much before the CEAT ratings had come out,we had our own ratings system,which was not exactly cued into our game, but the souvenirs and points we had collected by way of buying Big Fun Bugglegum,which gave a players photo and a certain number of points and the obne having maximum points, obviously was held in high esteem.Gosh talk about status tools, Big Fun was a huge status symbol those days :-)

Day Night cricket also made its impact when we decided that the power of six 60 watts bulbs was enough to create the environment on the verandah that we were playing night cricket.I remember, pleading with aunties to switch on their outside door bulbs to get some light,some aunties would oblige with a smile,some would curtly give weird reasons saying that "current units have increased,so we cant switch the light on".We learned the art of coaxing aunties whose bulb positionw as powerful by complimenting any aunty or her child with some sugar coated words for our benefit at night.

There were times the surrounding environment would dictate terms like an old uncle shouting that our game was disturbing him, or an aunty saying her son/daughetr had to study and we were distracting them,and people complaining it was siesta time and blah blah blah.Our game used to then go into a mode when we hardly shouted in delight as we scored a boundary or took a wicket.It was like watching a match with the same intensity of a muted India Pakistan game.

Incase we couldnt minimize the noise that was coming from our fervent appealling and raucous celebrations during the game, we quietly sat together on the verandah putting the bruised tennis ball and the bat to rest and sat down playing trump cards of cricket players.All of us honed our strategy lessons while playing trump cards, either in Cricket or the numerous avatars they came in like classic cars,futuristic cars or wwf cards.The trump card phase of 19993-96 was a highly addictive phase and it still has its withdrwal effects on me, when a players name strikes my mind, his records and history automatically fall in place.

The steps adjacent to the right door were our dressing room,and no body messed with our dressing room,when the game was on.Though we didnt have this in writing, no one wanted to take the risk of asking a bunch of noisy kids to move and stop the game for a second,while they passed by, they preffered the alternate step on the other side or to take the lift. If I have lived the life of a Wasim,Waquar,Sachin,Azhar or Mcdermott, I havent told you the life of a Courier,Becker,Sampras,Romario,Roberto baggio or a Lance armstrong, that I also lived.When the football world cup was on, we played football all season and aped the footballers for their style of kicks and so was it when the grand slams were played.Those days we had so much time to watch each match and discuss it on the verandah and even execute some of the lessons we learnt.

I used to serve like a Becker,wag my tounge out like a Sampras, feel like Ivanisevic and shout like Monica seles after each shot, and lose like a Lendl :-).My house those days was the hub of activity with all my friends assembling there to take the arms and ammunition.(stumps/bat/ball).One of the other reasons was that I had cable connection in my house (the 94/95 times) when having STAR in your house was a huge status symbol as most parents had not woken to the realisation of te new media,they preferred the good old doordarshan with Mahabharat,Junoon and Byomkesh Bakshi serials being more than a handful and ofcourse had the famous notion that STAR Tv spoils children.I remember having a lunatic uncle who gave all parents handouts on the ill effetcs of MTV and lead the tirade againsts STAR connection and some other aunty who said all these foreign channels come only in the night and they show adult stuff only, and this lead to postponement of STAR Tv in my house,before I won the battle by havin the connection on the 8th of April, 1994, much to the chagrin of my neighbour aunty.

Those were simply the days to live in :-)
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Shpriya said...

And what about the "French Cricket" and the "Book Cricket"? :))

harry said...

nostalgia grips me kannan..the same rules applied universally across all indoor cricket games i guess.. sampras wagging his tongue.... i have done it hazaar times and aped his serve succesfully. do ya remember brugeura and bersategui forehand...thanks for the article..feeling really nostalgic..

Anonymous said...

what abt ur KANK review?

Anonymous said...

what abt ur KANK review?

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