December 24, 2007

Cricket Santa!

“I like to get LBW!” declared the six year old cricket fiend, Vasudev. As Christmas requests go, this was high on originality. So here I was on Christmas Eve, on a pad finding mission, no less. Going by Pradeep Magazine’s book, Not Quite Cricket, a school in Jaipur boasts of 20 cricket coaches for just 200 students, so availability should not be a problem even if I wasn’t in the Pink, city that is!

At least that’s what I thought. The first two toyshops declined - they were more inclined towards Play Stations. And I was thinking even paan wallahs will stock them along with their assorted golis. Obviously I had misread the new cricket fervour – playing in abridged driveways, MCD fountain parks, congested roads, even in-house with tennis balls didn’t require serious equipment, not pads at least. And no way, 6 year olds played with a red cherry to need pads. My mind drifted – will I need to traverse the toyshops of Old Delhi in search of infantile pads? Will I have to visit Jaipur? Heck, will I have to manufacture pads? By the way, how do you manufacture pads? Is it a cottage industry? Are they made in China now?

Anyway, two down, one to go. At the third toyshop, I enquired somewhat reluctantly, in fear of refusal: “pads for 6 year olds?” Just then I saw a kiddy cricket set that resembled one of those Cock-Brand Diwali rocket packets, similar size and filmi poster illustrations. Even before he nodded, I knew this was the place. There was something cozy small town about the shop – and wasn’t that where all the biggie cricketers were coming from nowadays? Although that Play Station too was right up there.

Before I knew it, the pads came thumping down from the upstairs shaft. And with them, gloves in 3-4 sizes. For some reason I placed a pad against my leg, and estimated Vasudev’s height with my hand held two-feet above the pads – Bingo! The pads were made for the kid. No such luck with the kids’ gloves though.

Once the pads were gift wrapped, I couldn’t wait for him to rip it all apart and try them on – albeit on his pajamas; clearly I couldn’t wait for Christmas. My mind raced to what his reaction would be - will he want to play right away? Will his parents allow him? Will I put my foot down and say, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do? Enough thought, I dashed down to his home.

It was exactly like I saw it – Vasudev ripped the wrap ‘n’ nose-dived into the pads. In his excitement, he even tried to place his leg in the inside cushioning. With that minor glitch sorted, the left pad was worn – I thought of cricketers and their superstitions, would this be his – always the left pad first. With both pads on, I did what the media does best – capturing the stars in their glory. And Vasu sure was rocking: with a bat shaped pencil box he played the on-drive, and then the forward defence shot a la Brian Lara with that exaggerated back lift coming down swiftly and then staying there for the cameras to capture yet another eternal moment. Luckily, I had my camera ready. And I clicked away as he played every stroke in the book, and some that weren’t in it. In between the shoot we all managed frantic, over the top Merry Christmases. And for a moment, I did indeed feel like the Cricket Santa. No clauses whatsoever.

In the same series: Six and in


Bhaskar Khaund said...

great read , man !

Naked Cricket said...

Thanks man. Couldn't post the pictures as I have to negotiate a deal with his agents first.