Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Small Town Cricket Talk

When the Joker Pulled up an ace

Sunday October 1, was a normal day like any other, and I had no inkling of the role I would be playing in the evening. 4 P.M. saw the gang at the play ground. Thirteen of them including me were present. Two teams of 6 players each were formed and I was designated the role of the Joker. In local cricketing language a joker is a player who bats for both the teams and dons the gloves of the wicket keeper for both sides.

The first two matches ended with each team winning one match and thus the third match became a final of sorts. Simbu's team won the toss and decided to bat first. The entire team was bowled out (including me) for 16 runs in 5.4 overs.

Rahul decided to open the batting with our "sweep-master" Parthiban. Simbu opened the balling and Rahul was clean bowled of the first ball of Simbu's over. In the same over Parthiban lost his wicket. At the end of 5 overs Rahul's team required 5 runs to win and Prakash was batting with Kannan. At this point I opted opted to field in the forward position and Kumar decided to keep wickets. The first ball of the last over bowled by Magi was whipped to long-off for a double. The second ball was struck firmly by Prakash towards me. I lunged at the ball and threw the ball at the bowler's end. We just have one wicket at the bowler's end, and I aimed at it from about 12 metres away. The fielders erupted in joy when Prakash failed to make his ground and was run out by my direct throw at the stump.

Then it was my turn as the joker to bat for Rahul's team. 4 balls left and three runs to win. It was getting dark and becoming very difficult to view the ball properly. I struck the ball with all my strength and managed to take 2 runs. Now the scores were tied and the match was poised for a nail-biting finish.

1 run to win of three balls. The next two balls whipped past me with great speed as I failed to make contact with the ball. Now I was extremely nervous and the fielders had circled around me like vultures surrounding a corpse. At this moment Prakash decided to be my by-runner and the instructions given by Rahul to Kanna were very clear-"If the bat makes contact with the ball run like hell."

Magi looked like Shoib Akhtar and took a long run-up and hurled the ball at me like a grenade. I just closed my eyes and swung at the ball like a wood-cutter with his axe. The ball met the meat (centre) of the bat and met the boundary rope.

There were shouts of joy and disappointment among the boys and Rahul and Prakash started singing.

Well folks that's my tale of when the joker became the hero.

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