Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Tip One Hand and Other Cricketing Rules

Image copyright Micah Parker

Recently, I came across a post by a passionate cricket fan complaining that Shahid Afridi was cheating when he bowled those fast deliveries to the Canadian batsmen. The argument was not that Afridi was doing any of the biometric – elbow arching doosra degree grouse that is usually thrown about, but the problem was Afridi is a spinner, then how was he allowed to bowl those fast deliveries? Shouldn’t the batsman have complained? Boom Boom Shame Shame Afridi.

Wasn’t this a fit case for breach of trust?

Holy DLF Maximum! I smiled as I read the post again and again. The doubt was na├»ve, yet it was so fresh. The dark art of cricket has escaped infecting one and all. There still exists Indians who believe that maidens are not bowled; they are scored (Eyebrow up, red rose in mouth) 

Spinners bowling illegally fast! What was next, that criminal Harbhajan Singh not spinning the ball?

So being a generally cruel person, I replied to the post that spinners are allowed to bowl fast if the terrace roof is 2.5 meters from the popping crease. Or if one team has 2 players less. You know tongue-in-cheek stuff from your regular know it all. Haw Haw.

Once I was satisfied that I had juiced it for all it was worth, a humbling thought stuck me. It really was an innocent doubt. A straight answer could have settled the issue. Why was I being overtly middle aged and wicked? Bad on you Gaurav Parab, and My Bad. Or whatever the kids say these days.

How could I forget inserting the bit about spinners being legally allowed to bowl fast when one tip one hand is applicable for the first 18 balls?

Before all of us became cricketing experts, we were at the same point as the young man weren’t we? That period in time when backyard rules applied to the playground, and subsequently to the TV match.

Papa, how is Nayan Mongia scoring runs? Isn’t he a lousy wicketkeeper and not a lousy wicketkeeper-batsman?

Those were the days! The days when cricket was pure fun, and you made most of it up as you went along. Like first dates when you pulled chairs and said excuse me every time you accidentally tripped the waiter. When lack of space, players, and sporting equipment made Cricket a game that never had enough rules to be played. It was simple so it could be fun. It was fun because it could be complicated. Bat, Ball and the Neelkamal Plastic chair.  Countless amendments to the constitution each open to countless interpretations. So, we made up rules. To fix things so they could be broken and open to fixing again.

I give you some of the rules and cricketing highlights from my childhood.

From the blog Gaurav Parab Says

Who were the Players?

There was a clear hierarchy in terms of equipment owners. Note that there were no players involved. When you were young, there were only equipment owners. The term ‘ players’ was only thrown about when scandalized aunties started objecting to ‘equipment’ owners.

Player # 1: Ball Owner: Universally disliked but acknowledged as God.

He could be out, but you had to let him bat till his Brilliant Tutorials courier arrived. And trust me; no one in those days saw the irony inletting the ball owner bat. For starters, no one knew what irony was. We just screamed out Fe in the periodic table whenever somebody brought it up.

The guy who owned the ball would always get the benefit of the doubt. If he got angry and left with the ball, you were helpless. You were de-balled. At the age, you didn’t even see the teen humor in being called the ball owner. You were the ball guy. You had earned to right to scream I Have a Ball! And you could do it with a straight face.

Player # 2: Bat Owner:  Not quiet God, but angel enough.The thing is boys can fashion cricket bats out of random objects like tube-light holders, a mom’s purse, the mathematics notebook or a drainage pipe. The bat owner is naturally not as important as the revered God of the Ball.

But if your friend has a real bat men squealed like women squeal on seeing that thing called a real Jimmy Choo. Men with bats deserved respect. Especially if the bat had a label like Power / Boost / Datsun / or anything masculine sounding like Khandala.

Player # 3: Stump Owner: Known as the expert. A suave man who likes attention to detail. The electricity pole is not good enough for him, he wants stumps. To hear the timber being disturbed by the ball god’s gift to mankind. So he can mentally freeze the sound and spit it out with the wine on Sunday.

In our days, if you were in the group that played with stumps, you had truly arrived. If you had bails, the other boys would even offer that older sisters to be seen with you.

“She wears earrings! You can have her!”

“Go scram. What do you want with our stumps?”

“Can I just sit behind them and live the orgasmic pleasure of stump vision? Please.”

Player # 4: Gloves, Pads, Wrist Band Owner: Called Padaku Keeda. Which loosely translated to gay in those testosterone filled marddays when Anil Kapoor’s chest contributed 3 percent to India’s forest cover.

What was The Universal Rule?

The one single piece of genius that has been responsible for India’s fascination with cricket and movies with long names.  One Tip One Hand. OTOH.

With this rule in place, everyone could play cricket. It did not matter if the local Tendulkar was getting ready to bat. You can get anyone OTOH by not telling him and sneaking the first ball in quickly. OTOH also explains the look on Kamran Akmal’s face as soon as the ball is edged.

I got it, I got it!

Mother -swear I caught it with one hand. The other was just supporting the air below the first hand so that the hand did not fall off” was the usual precursor to a hundred arguments over the OTOH.

Anyone who could consistently pull off OTOH is either working for NASA or is dead.

What was the Code of Behavior?

Mainly consisting of a thing called Mutual Respect

Anyone who could bowl a slower ball, or a wrong one, or play the late cut was given mutual respect by everyone else. This involved nodding intelligently and saying things like, “It felt like Chandrakanta meets Rangoli when you bowled that slower one Nishant”

No one knew why, but some things always deserved mutual respect. Which was always delivered with a chewing gum in your mouth.

What was the Inspiration?

Everyone did the ‘Tendulkar” shuffle before every ball. If you could do the box squat well, you earned enough mutual respect for generations of your offspring.

“ His grandfather would touch himself! Before every ball!”

“Wow! He is the man.”

If you were a fast bowler you had to wear the head band like Waqar or leave the field. In some mysterious way, a head band gave you amazing powers. Ask Ajay Devgun on how he could do a leg split on two motorcycles at the risk of being critically de-balled and he would point to his head band.

Doing a Paul Adams was allowed for eight balls or till your torso came off your hips.

Who were the Umpires?

The UDRS or the Uncle Decision Review System was in place a long time ago in India.  The elite panel usually involved The Sabzi Wala or anyone with a bald spot.

All third parties were thought to be neutral. They could be called upon to judge nicks, and run out decisions (only if the Ball God was not involved).

When a college girl was crossing the street, she would invariable called on for the final say.

“Mam, wasn’t that out?” followed by a Tendulkar box squat.

And murmurs of mutual respect.

Where Did We Play ?

The thumb rule in choosing the playing field was if you could not annoy anyone by playing there, don’t play there.

Each field had different rules. Scoring was differential too, depending on which side of the batsman the dog was tied. Off side hits usually fetched more runs because even Rajesh Chouhan could wallop it on the leg side.

Left handers were treated with general protest and disgust, since rules had to be changed and magnetic compasses arranged at short notice. Overall, it was a game well played. I am sure today’s generation of equipment owners have their own way around the simplicities of the sport. As long as they don’t say LOL instead of Howzaat, I am all right with it. I blog at Gaurav Parab Says. Drop in some time, and we will have a ball.

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Kalyan said...

Wow bhaiya.. Was quite funny.. Specially forest contribution of Anil kapoor and head band of ajay devgan.. Apne cricket ke poorane din yaad aa gae..


Rishi Bhatnagar said...

Gaurav, a job well done. An article well written. Memories revisited. Enough said.

Vaibhav Mathur said...

Oh man!!! Reminds me of those good old days. Here are some more funny rules that my friends and I used to have -
1. If a ball hits the front wall, it is a sixer. But if it further crosses it and goes outside the ground, the batsman is out.
2. Every player, except the batsman, fields irrespective of the team.
3. If the last wicket falls, even the single batsman continues batting alone without a partner. He bats until he is out.
4. No LBW.

Needless to mention, it is one of the best posts I have read in recent times. Keep them coming.

suketu said...


Fantastic post - a pleasant stroll down memory lane. I miss those days!!

Surferosh said...

ahhh, good times Gaurav.. good times indeed..
i remember we once had a rule in under-arm cricket that you couldn't lift your feet off the ground while bowling else it would be a no-ball !

also, do you remember being run out via 'connection' ?

Gaurav Parab said...

Connection! How could i forget the connection rule.

One looked so stupid if you forgot to make the connection and the batsman was well out of the ground.

Surferosh said...

yeah.. a bit like how Kamran Akmal looks when he forgets to reach out for the ball or fumble and take the bails off with his gloves instead :)