My hitherto last Twenty20 tournament match

A quick tip for business school students. You have to look at what people need and what the people really want; and then have to ignore the established way of doing business. Because what people do will prevail in the long run.

Because, in first-class cricket we used to have only the long formats of the game; the shortest being a one-day match. We used to play cricket in the school playgrounds, in open grounds, and literally on the courtyards of our homes. Since we had only few players and less time; we had to shorten it into 20 overs, 10 overs, or even 5 overs. In the local tournaments, it was Twenty20; because nobody had the time and the finances to conduct a tournament that took one-day for the completion of just one match!

The trend took on, and nobody even thought about it getting international recognition until the International Cricket council, ICC, held its first World Twenty20 in 2007 and the Indian Premier league, IPL, was established in 2008. Currently, it is the most popular form of cricket.

It was one fine morning about 16 years ago that I got a call from a friend.

“Hello.”

“We have got a Twenty20 tournament today. We got fewer players. You should come. Also, can you find someone else who is really good to play for us, please?”

“I try.”

The phone was hung up, and I dialed another friend who introduced me to cricket after a Sunday-school class when I was only six-or-seven years old. I still remember it vividly.

“You know cricket?”

“Oh yes. It is something I always play.”

“Then come to my home after catechism. We play.”

I went to his home, and my Sunday school friend gave me a makeshift cricket bat made of timber and proceeded to take a hockey ball. He also taught me how to take a stance with the bat.

“You ready?

“Yes.”

He took a few steps back, took the run up and bowled. I was totally unaware of everything, until the heavy lead-like ball, at least a pound heavy, hit one of my legs in decent speed.

Wincing in pain, I started to cry loudly. And what I still remember is the friend’s face who was laughing at me.

Only if I had stopped the habit of empty swagger.

That was how I started to play cricket. And today I called him. We need his services.

He agreed to play, and we both proceeded toward the tournament-venue in my automatic-gear scooter.

It was a very big ground where once it was a natural-brick-stone quarry which felt carved out of the hill like a gigantic Coliseum. We parked the scooter near the side of the entrance and we had to walk down to the center of the ground where the players were waiting. Half-a-kilometer? No, I might be exaggerating. But certainly more than 100 meters.

There were also a few spectators who were scattered along the lines and beyond.

The toss was done and we got to bat first.

After my Sunday-school friend was out for a ‘duck’, I went-in as the number three batsman. I remember hitting a six off the first ball I faced. (over long off.) Second ball, I swung again and I missed. On the third ball, I did a square-cut. The ball spun viciously and skidded slowly to the square-leg fielder. Poor timing. No run. And the fourth ball I tried to steer-down to third-man, I got a leading edge, and the wicket-keeper took the catch. Out. 6 runs off 4 balls.

We scored only about 90-plus in the 20 overs. Only a few players got into double digits.

The good thing about batting first is that it sometimes gives even the poorest-of-poor sides an outside chance. On a good day, sometimes the minnows have toppled the mighty.

We started to bowl, determined to win. I remember my Sunday-school friend having a good time with the ball. His medium pace generally had accuracy, and was sometimes very troubling for the batting side.

I was wicket-keeper for some time, and I was relegated to fine-leg after some time. I remember running down to save one boundary by sticking out one leg against the ball. It had a bad bounce, and the ball hit my shin-bone instead; almost injuring it. That is how I remember we played with a real cricket-ball that particular tournament, because tennis-ball cricket tournaments were also in vogue then.

Toward the end, the other team, the batting side, somehow pulled off a win. The asking run-rate was too low, and they simply had to stay in there for a victory which they eventually did.

We shook hands with the players, and we left the arena in my auto-gear scooter. Though I have played cricket afterward, it was the last ‘tournament’ I have played so far. With the Sunday school classmate who taught me, in the first place, how to play this wonderful game of cricket.

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