Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Galli Cricket

Gili ki Suki, was gross. But that was one of the expected norms for toss up.Apart from the toss, Galli Cricket redefined many a cricketing terms. Some of them not even part of regular First Class Cricket.

For example one tip, one hand. Or "only off-side" rules. Or "current" out.

A game of Galli cricket usually evolved over a period of many cricketing sessions. It crystallized it's rules and contours based on what neighbor was a pain-in-the-butt (and hence hitting the ball directly in their compound was out), what side of the road had higher probability of traffic nuisance (as if traffic was a nuisance and not the actual game being played on public property), what side of the arena had more bushes/trees..

But once the rules got defined and refined, the show was on. It use to go into dark hours of twilight, in diminishing lights, until the symphony was broken by a shouting Mom of one of the 'studious' players. (That player would not be from S.F.S)

One of the other reasons for an unceremonious end of the game would be a broken window of a not-so-sporting neighbor. A khadoos and in all likely hood, a bald oldie, would stop the game by his ruckus over a broken window. So much so that by the time he came out of his house, shouting, the only concrete evidence of someone playing cricket was the small tower of red bricks which masqueraded as a wicket. Coz all the players would have vanished from the scene of trouble faster than my 401k's gains ..and those bricks would be standing tall and only helping in making the guy's face go red like them.

As kids grew into college going 'young adults', Galli Cricket also became an excuse for some bizarre activities. Like making an impression on neighborhood 'flames'. Some over enthusiastic fielder in the sleeps (yeah, we use to have sleep position too..go figure) would make a seemingly simple looking catch into a Jonty Rodesque diving acrobatic stunt just to impress 'her'. She wouldn't even notice, but no one was blaming this 'impresario' for trying too hard. His many fake dives for a simple catch would not even invite a nod or a hello after several weeks. In most cases, the flame wouldn't even know the guyz existence. These stories would begin and die on the cricketing field itself.

Although there was lowest common denominator ground rules for all Galli Cricket, some of them got tweaked from neighborhood to neighborhood or even cities.

For example when I use to play in Mumbai with my cousins on vacations, they played Galli Cricket with a different set of rules. (Being Bombay, they called it 'Box Cricket'). The kids there were extremely conscious of space limitations, and that notion had got hard-wired into them. So much so that when we played cricket on Versova Beach near my aunt's house, we would even make a boundary line and play box cricket although there was no compelling reason to 'box' it.

When I visited India last year, I found Galli Cricket was conspicuous by it's absence. Probably Cable TV/ Pool Tables / Competitive exams.. or a combination of these factors all have conspired to replace my dear Galli Cricket off the slate.

Long before T20 became the cool poster child of cricket, 80s school kids, had already identified a fast paced, intense, easy to consume , fast-food cricket. It was Galli Cricket. And boy did we enjoy it! Right from the toss, to the controversial run-outs and nics, to touching of bats when the non-striker and striker swap positions, to contributing 25 paise for one MRF ball, to deciding the batting line up based on who bowled first, to arranging "matches" with 'next Galli' folks and signing off on a notebook, declaring a win or a loss.... every game ensured an intense drama of cricketainment.

P.S : Not to blow my own trumpet, but I did have a lethal doosra in under-arm spin :)


Rohit said...

Great post! Funny and you captured all the details really well...

It was really cool when we had the same rules for our match last week at the picnic.

Anonymous said...

Brings back some fond memories.

Great account of a great institution.

Rathchakra said...

"Coz all the players would have vanished from the scene of trouble faster than my 401k's gains"

FANTASTIC account..and the one above was too good.

There were so many rules and ways of making runs...Hit that MSEB pole and you got a run...the ball goes above the compound wall without touching the are out...if not its 2 runs...just insane...but never had so much fun in any other form of cricket..thanks for bringing back the memories.

kautilya said...

Thanks folks..

Yeh, there were so many rules and terms.

Like when someone bowled a really really loose ball, it was called.. (hold your breath..).. "Luddhi" And I swear, I cannot find an alternative apt word for that.

One of my friends would call a 'nic' of bat - Touch-Kinari. Can't argue with that, can you :)

Sab said...

Your posts took me back to those days... And i was just so happy to see some galli cricket by my house when i was back home kerala this year.