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VCL (Verandah Cricket League) – 1

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This picture is of my verandah in my Adyar 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 wall separating 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 decisions by switching on the respective lights. 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 colors 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 colored 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 Waqar 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, hoping 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. 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, flummoxing most folks, who were batting. I still can’t believe in the small verandah that was there, we were running runs with 2 fielders posted in that verandah…

 

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