Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Game of Bat & Ball

Cricket is not just any other sport. It’s the “Gentleman’s Game”. And it is probably the only sport which has its own “spirit”. Not sure about the meaning of all this, but cricket certainly is one of the most complex pass times invented by human kind. The rules are complex, the duration is long, it can be beautiful without producing any result and be boring while producing one, it’s a game filled with numbers and more numbers, a true statistician’s delight. One can’t learn cricket at one go. It’s a process which evolves with time. For me it evolved from the game of Bat & Ball.
As a kid growing up, I remember a plastic bat & ball set amongst the first toys. The game was pretty simple then. Hit the ball, which was thrown towards you with the bat (Me holding the bat, and my father doing the bowling). From this humble beginning the game grew on me.
As I stepped out into the neighborhood play area the game evolved further. Slowly concepts like runs and getting out also came in. The bat became wooden. The ball would become a tennis ball, and occasionally the proper cricket ball. One learnt the rules as one played along. Bowled, caught and run out were the only modes of dismissal available. Of these the bowled was the most controversial as the stumps being a set of 3 lines drawn on the wall. There were interesting rules made up for our own convenience.

  • Hitting the ball in specific areas got different amount of runs (2,4,6)
  • Late Run was not allowed. The batsmen should have started the run immediately after hitting the ball. (Generated quite a few controversies)
  • Double Bat – Contact twice with the bat was out.
  • Ulta Bat – Getting hit on the back of the bat was out.
  • Half crease No Ball – It was a no ball if the ball bounced before the half way mark on the pitch.
  • One Hand One Bounce – During certain games, if the fielder catches the ball with one hand after it has bounced once you can get out.
  • Single Batsman playing - Generally the last man played alone.
  • Half Pitch Run Out - With single batsman on the crease, for a batsman to be run out, the throw had to hit the stumps on the side towards which the batsman was closer.
  • Multiple Times Out for really young fellows in the team. They had to be dismissed more than once before they could be finally given out.
  • Batsman exchanging bats - Generally only one decent bat would be avaialable. Sometimes after completing one run, the two batsmen would start off. If the throw was coming in fast then, they would stop mid-pitch and exchange bats, claiming that this had been their real intent throughout.
  • No Bad Light - It would be pitch dark, but the overs had to be completed. Nobody winning the toss ever chose to field.
  • No LBW - Well to be honest as an youngster nobody really knew the rules of this method of getting out, so wasn't ever used. (Quite a few pronounced it as LPW for some reason)

However once the game shifted to playground more of the traditional rules came into play. And these became obsolete. In such games depending on the number of players available, the non-striker would serve as the umpire; both teams would be fielding etc. Games were played in the evenings with 5-10 overs a side games being played. (Twenty20 is the form of the game closest to the one which I have ever played. Although it certainly is not my favorite form)
So this was the story of how the game began for me. As a simple game of Bat and Ball.

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