To say that we are a cricket mad nation would be somewhat of an understatement. The manner in which the Indian cricket team's performance is intrinsically linked to our daily lives has to be seen first hand to be believed. The mood in our offices, colleges, schools and homes sways with every fluctuation in our team's fortunes. Modern day kids might want to follow the footsteps of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard but there was a time when emulating the feats of Sachin and his band of merry men was the dream of every young man in the country (A perfect example springs to my mind, you know who he is) . And yet, for all the exploits of our 'Men in Blue' (sounds like a cheap desi rip off of the Will Smith - Tommy Lee Jones flick MiB), the most fascinating, edge of the seat, nail biting matches occur far from the madding crowds and floodlit stadiums. In fact they can be found at your neighbourhood playground.
Theres something fascinating about these sunday matches which is difficult to explain. The rules get modified a bit - theres no LBW (a form of dismissal for which a neutral 3rd party umpire is required) cause the umpire is from the batting side, only tennis balls get used and trees / walls / surroundings alter the boundary line as per the situation etc: Blatant runouts are never given out again cause the umpire is from the batting side but then the favour is always returned somewhere down the line. Almost always its friends playing against each other so win or lose everyone can enjoy a sweaty but jovial round of lime sodas after the match without any bad blood. Which doesnt mean the matches are bereft of competition. On the contrary, everyone plays to win and yes, tempers do rise occassionally. And even if a team loses a match it was supposed to win or vice versa, nobody is going to thrown bottles and cans onto the field and halt play cause nobody has time to watch these sunday battles. Unless youre like me and youve realised that being cricket mad has nothing to do with being stuck with the remote in front of the idiot box.