Saturday, June 4, 2016

East Rock Cricket- A wonderful chapter of my life.

Cricket is my favorite sport, it may not be surprising to know as I am an Indian and I guess the whole world knows India's obsession with this sport. As a child, I played this game a lot, in our chawl we used to have daily games where kids used to make two teams and play limited over match. We also used to have matches between teams from different neighborhoods, price money used to to 50 paisa or one rupee or the winner used to get the ball which we used to buy by collecting the money and play the match with it. There used to be an arch rival of every team and we also had some. There were some teams which were really strong and we used to dream to beat them and there were some who used to dream to beat us. We both used to manage to fulfill our dreams once in a while, it used to be a celebration time and we used to talk about our heroic efforts for weeks. Many of these matches used to be very high octane drama with lots of arguments over no ball or wide ball, but run outs used to be the real event killer, many times match was forced to abandon as some controversial run out decision used to create so much chaos and with no team willing to yield an inch, match used to end without any result. But even after all this there used to be another match on next Sunday with the same team. This phase of my life was really memorable, but after I finished my school it all stopped, we all friends from our chawl went in different directions. I went to college and none of my chawl friends joined me there, so it all ended.

During my college and PhD, we used to play yearly tennis ball tournaments, and I used to be a part of my class or department team. I always enjoyed playing a team sport, whether it is Kabaddi or Cricket or Khokho, I love all team sports. One beautiful aspect of cricket is that almost anyone can play this game: short or tall, thin or chubby, fast or slow, doesn't matter, anyone can be a part of a team and have fun. Honestly, I am not that talented cricketer, I never got any official training to play this sport, my parents couldn't afford it. I used to be a wicket keeper for our chawl team, my running between the wicket is good and I consider myself very dedicated and hard working fielder. I get very upset whenever I drop a catch or get run out but whether I like it or not, it happens occasionally. I play hard for my team to win and like to be on winning side, but that doesn't happen all the time and it is a part and parcel of any sportperson's life.

After coming to US I never got a chance to play cricket until I met with some cricket enthusiastic Yale undergraduates, my friend Vishnu was very instrumental in all this. I really enjoyed their company and loved their enthusiasm towards the game of cricket. Then East Rock cricket happened, every weekend Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 10 AM was booked for cricket. It all started with 5-6 enthusiastic Yale postdocs and then it grew from there. We played in ideal and not so ideal ground conditions, our grounds used to have so many tall trees, we call them Jonty Rhodes (a very dynamic and phenomenal South African fielder). Many superb shots which might have gone to six on any other ground used to land right in front of bowler because of those trees, but still I loved every bit of it. And yes, there used to to taunts, arguments, fights, drama, many times I used to be a part of this commotion. Honestly, it used to remind me of my chawl days, the only difference was a language, it used to happen in Marathi that time and here at East rock it was a mixture of Hindi and English. Most of these arguments used to be pointless with no right or wrong side, they all used to happen in heat of the moment, there used to be lots of anger and frustration, but there never used to be any malice or hate in it.

I don't know when, how and why, but slowly something changed either in me or in the environment of East Rock cricket. Arguments started getting personal, winning the game became more important than giving everyone a chance to play this amazing game. Of course, winning is important aspect of any game, so there is nothing wrong in putting on a fierce fight to win any game, but that should not involve insulting any individual, especially for their intent, skills and physique. I am a big supporter of free speech, so I cannot complain about what someone should say and shouldn't. It is every individual's right to express himself or herself, I have that right and everyone else also have the same right. Playing to win at any cost might be a good approach for competitions like the world cup, but for me winning is just one part of recreational games, it is a bonus. I like to play some really good competitive sport.

I don't play cricket for fitness, for this I can do many more things which are more efficient and kind on my body compared to cricket. I really enjoyed this journey. I suggest any cricket enthusiast living in and around New Haven to join this amazing group and enjoy the great game of cricket. I am sure that they all will love the drama which also comes with it. I don't think I can completely stop playing cricket or stop visiting East Rock cricket team, I am too much attached to them and this amazing game. It was like a serious commitment for me for last few years, my weekend plans used to revolve around it, now it won't be the case. Carry on the baton guys, people come and people go, but the show must go on and you guys know that we all put an amazing show, so keep it up.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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