The girls have, in their vast hoard of playthings, a pair of hockey sticks, a couple of tennis rackets, a shuttlecock, a couple of old tennis balls, a small golf ball, a green plastic ball and a yellow smiley ball. They don’t, strangely enough, possess a single cricket bat, but it doesn’t seem to matter, because they play reverse sweeps quite effectively with the hockey sticks.
Most of this motley collection of ‘bats’ and balls is reserved for using in the park only, as the confined space indoors guarantees severe damage to person and property, should they be allowed to swing these various sticks and rackets around freely.
So, for indoors cricket, they have made their own arrangements. Usually, it’s just the two of them, byt today they roped me in as well. I, armed with a tweety-bird-yellow plastic pencil box, and seated at the dining table, was the batsman; Mrini, armed with a tennis ball was the bowler. She demonstrated Newton’s third law of motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) beautifully; every time she let go of the ball, it went flying off wildly in some unpredictable direction, while she tumbled over equally wildly in some other, equally unpredictable direction.
Sometimes, the ball arrived somewhere in the vicinity of the pencil box (I mean, the bat), and I lunged at it, also rather wildly. Even armed with a pencil box, it is not easy to hit a missile hurled with a good deal of determination and no clear direction from about two feet away.
On the rare occasion when the bat made contact with the unguided missile, the result was that the said missile went careening off in a new and still highly unpredictable manner. Once it missed the moving blades of the fan by a couple of inches. Had it made contact, it would have been interesting.
Tara had the unenviable task of fielding. According to me, it is the worst job in the world, but some dogs like it too, so I suppose there’s no accounting for tastes. Egged on by Mrini, she went chasing off after every ball, tracked it down (usually by crawling under some furniture), retrieved it, and very sweetly handed it over to Mrini.
After the game had progressed in this organised and disciplined manner for one entire over, Tara, the fielder, took the ball and ran off. Mrini squealed and ran after her. She got the ball back after a bit of a struggle, but she had learned her first major neighbourhood-cricket lesson: if you want to be the bowler, you’d better be ready to do the fielding too.