Monday, 16 June, 2008

Wall cricket, and my non-maavu bat

I played cricket today. Against the wall.

Not ‘The Wall’, I hasten to add. Much as I’d love to have one of my dibbly-dobbly off-cutters sneak through that most unbreachable of defenses, and cart his seldom-seen off-breaks to all points on the compass, the wall I faced up to was one of brick, mortar, white paint and a switchboard put in place by someone with no knowledge of wall cricket. It’s hard to hit a good length if impediments exist on the wall. Pulling short balls was a no-no too, with a grandmother asleep at forward short leg.

The bat I employed was my ancient SG Super Cover. I bought this when I was in the fifth standard. It was then a size 5.

Through years of tapping on concrete and tarmac, and flinging over fences in moments of pique and angst, it has shrunk to a size 3.18 or thereabouts. The sticker says ‘English Willow’ and while it most certainly is an English Willow, it's an English Willow covered with parchment – which is a little short on street-cred, because parchment bats look like well-fed maavu bats. Maavu in Tamil means dough, or batter. Maavu bats are the ones that come – or used to, in pre-Beyblade days – free with Boost at some points in time, and Bournvita at other points in time. Most un-English my willow looks, but maavu it most certainly isn’t.

Mukul Kesavan (read in full here) once said of the parchment bat:

“… there was another kind of bat, which we treated like a dead thing, like an instrument merely: the parchment bat. This was a ready-to-use bat that didn't have to be seasoned: it came with its blade wrapped at intervals in three-inch wide bands of thread and the whole sheathed in a thick membrane. The only reasons to buy it (besides the labour saved on seasoning) were that it was cheaper than a willow bat and seen as more durable because the membrane (probably some kind of intestinal skin) and the bands of thread kept its blade from chipping. But no one bought parchment bats if they could help it, because they were hideous to look at …”

A parchment bat – with over half the membrane peeled off, leaving dull, coarse wood exposed – is perfectly suited to studiously smothering tennis balls bowled with the hand not holding the bat. The wall – usually, but not always – makes off-breaks and chinamen spin away from, and leg breaks and orthodox lefties toward, the (right handed) batsman.

In the past I’d imagine I was playing for India, usually making my test debut. There was this improbable phase in my life when I was a huge fan of Shiv Sundar Das – remember him? – and I’d open the batting with him, and we'd put on a gazillion runs before he fell – someone had to – and then Dravid would walk in, and so on. The unwritten rules I followed through all my test debuts were – always score a century, and always carry your bat.

There were other times when I would not be me, but someone else, and try to bat like them. I distinctly remember the Mark-Waugh-ness coursing through my veins as I gently sent a hip-high ball speeding through mid wicket some years ago.

I couldn’t recapture that today, thanks to my grandmother at short leg.


astute87 said...


But no grand ma at short-leg for me . I had Jenny at extra cover and Tiwi will be all over the place. Tiwi was sometimes a sincere ball dog.

I had a similar parchment SS. 400 bucks back then and I got that after a lot of whinnying at home.

I've scored a couple of double tons in ODIs.

I also had this hanging ball and I scored 8 sixes in 8 balls against Pakistan in world cup finals at the car garage and won the cup of course.

But the best of it all was talking in the presentation ceremony.


Ghanshyam Nair said...

@ Arunesh
"But the best of it all was talking in the presentation ceremony."
Ha Ha!

sanjuayyar said...

Ah! I always used to provide commentary as well.
India-Pakistan was my favourite series. The rules were fairly simple and so flexible that it would have put two gentlemen by the name of Duckworth & Lewis to shame.
While batting, if the ball hits direct on the sofa thrice, the batsman is out. If the ball hits something more precious, say for example, the television screen, its out in the very first attempt. If the ball manages to dissect the two fielders (the two single seater chairs, I mean) its a four. And on days when I was at the receiving end of Linda Goodman's predictions, the ball would uncannily hurry off to the kitchen where all the Lords reside. Result? Banned from wall-cricket for life until the Match referee (Amma) decided to show some leniency and let you off after severe rounds of reprimands.
Man of the match awards collected so far include:
1) A broken wall-clock.
2) A broken photograph of Sathya Sai Baba which went underground immediately thereafter.
3) A badly damaged button (Channel Number 7) of Nelco Blue Diamond television which isnt repaired till date.
Wall Cricket, ah! I've even attempted it with a cork ball. It can get extremely addictive and have adverse effects on materialistic possessions and human life as well. Not necessarily in that order.

Tashi said...

Lad, this so reminds me of those days when we played with a cricket ball in your hall in Rams. The weirdest thing was not breaking anything with so many things to break. Jeez man, we are already talking like kezham bolts. Need to play some serious cricket sometime!

Ghanshyam Nair said...

Ha ha... kezham bolts... yeah man... at least on Sundays man.

Rahul said...

Brings back the memories of that summer camp in fifth standard. Also having used your bat first hand, I can say , without fear of contradiction that your bat was sans maavu or any preservatives.

Remember my size 4 Gunn and Moore bat mate?

Ghanshyam Nair said...

Whoa man! Good to see you here! Yup, I remember that bat perfectly well, was very sophisticated looking and was perfectly designed keeping your height in mind... Ha ha.