March 10, 2011

The forgotten handbook of school cricket games

Cricinfo
From Ramsundar Govindarajan, India
13

From Ramsundar Govindarajan, India

Almost every person who’s played cricket in his childhood will recollect a host of cricket-inspired games played during school is likely to have saved him/her from the ennui of never-ending lectures, drills, assignments and exams. Before they are forgotten, I’d like to contribute my penny in documenting some of the best ones.

Book Cricket : This, probably, was the most popular game, the best possible escape from a moral-instruction class and the only alternative when bad weather made outdoor games impossible during a physical training (PT) lesson. A textbook had to be flipped open for every ball bowled and the last digit of the even number on the landing page was the score made (number ending on 0 meant out). An ‘8’ ending number could either mean no run or 8 runs according to the format of the game. Teams were made, tournaments were conducted, scorecards were painstakingly charted and World Cups were won and lost every week. Flipping and landing on the same number more than once meant the next 15 minutes were lost in a match-fixing controversy and almost every match ended in a counting debate. Every reaction of the game was emoted - be it a swashbuckling four from Azhar , the celebration of an in-swinging yorker from Akram or the intended slow flips when Tendulkar was in his jittery nineties. There was always drama, commentary and celebration.

Indoor cricket : This game was almost reserved for vacations. A green cloth (ground) was spread on the floor, which had markings for distance cleared versus runs awarded. Plastic fielders stood on V-shaped stands and were placed all over the ground. An inclined plane was supported on one end of the pitch from where a "ball bearing" was slid towards the stumps at the other end. A toothpick-sized bat was used to hit the ball. Runs were made according to the distance cleared and if the ball ran up the slide and hit the boundary, it was a six. If the ball landed in the V between fielders, the batsman was out. If the cloth shook and fielders fell, it meant a warning. Two warnings led to a dismissal. Every shot was possible –cover drives, square cuts and even make-believe pulls. Bowlers used the slide to bowl their cutters, and added backspin to turn the ball. That it took a long time to complete the match was more of a merit than a disadvantage.

There were a couple more games which I would love to go into more detail but for the space crunch. Big Fun (also a popular bubble gum in India at the time) was the single-biggest reason for oral cramps among us card-collecting youth. You were the most respected student of the school if you knew how to spell Vangipurappu Venkatasai Laxman or Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas. And if someone brought "flipper cards" revealing a textbook cover drive from Sunil Gavaskar, he was the school hero of the day. I only hope the lectures continue to be as boring as they were, for these little things augur well for the recreational interests of school-goers and the popularity of the game itself.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shamsul haq on March 12, 2011, 7:44 GMT

    simply loved book cricket....... played it round the clock at school or home.......got into trouble with parents and teachers.....amazing days....

  • Imran Nazir on March 12, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Great read. I think those were definitely the best days of cricket.

  • faiz on March 11, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    I played all the 3 formats mentioned, and book cricket was such a rage during worlcups nd other imp tournaments that we made separate notebooks for dis.. !!!

  • Guru on March 11, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Excellent post - reminds me of my school days. Abhishek is correct, 8 was for 1 run (that quick single).

    Redau, the dice cricket sounds exciting, I should try that some day :)

  • Anand on March 11, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    Nostalgia !! Dice, books, flip books, name it - we who grew up in the early 1980's had it all ....

  • Anonymous on March 11, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Good job Ramdu. Machi what do you think about moonuranus? He should have till date thought India vs Sri lanka (400-400) the best match played ever.

  • James Ozermann on March 11, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    I remember quite a few years ago my father telling me how he and his classmates had their own version of book cricket. How they would do it, was they would designate each letter of the alphabet either a shot and runs (eg drive two runs) or a wicket. The person "batting" would call out a random page number, line, and choose a random number of letters across on that specific line (eg page 30, line 6, fourth letter) which would give them either the runs scored or wicket taken.

    I tried it and it was okay, but I was more into my other cricket games - the old test match board game and the test match game with the little felt field, the howzat dice game and my favourite the Richard Hadlee Limited Overs Cricket. I spent hours playing "test series" and "ODI's" as a kid. I once managed to play a whole world cup with seven teams and recorded meticulously every single game of that series!

  • iGalus on March 10, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    I recall the old days of playing the cloth based indoor cricket as well as the book cricket and boy, I agree with the writer on similar moment on enjoying the childhood cricket rip-offs.

  • Giri on March 10, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Great article, younger brother :). Dont forget the numerous fights we had playing indoor cricket with paper mushed like a ball and made tight using rubber band and exam pads as bat and trying to smash every furniture in the house :)

  • Redau on March 10, 2011, 19:04 GMT

    Hi This is great. My favourite childhood cricket game was what I called dice- cricket. Essentially you need a dice and a score card. You could either play alone or with friends. It involved selecting your teams and then creating a match. The dice would serve as the runs as well as who took wickets. Eg. if you threw the dice and it would land on three this would mean three runs for the batsman. If the dice lands on five this would mean out. You then also throw the dice to determine who the bowler was who took the wicket. This game provided me with endless fun.

  • shamsul haq on March 12, 2011, 7:44 GMT

    simply loved book cricket....... played it round the clock at school or home.......got into trouble with parents and teachers.....amazing days....

  • Imran Nazir on March 12, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Great read. I think those were definitely the best days of cricket.

  • faiz on March 11, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    I played all the 3 formats mentioned, and book cricket was such a rage during worlcups nd other imp tournaments that we made separate notebooks for dis.. !!!

  • Guru on March 11, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Excellent post - reminds me of my school days. Abhishek is correct, 8 was for 1 run (that quick single).

    Redau, the dice cricket sounds exciting, I should try that some day :)

  • Anand on March 11, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    Nostalgia !! Dice, books, flip books, name it - we who grew up in the early 1980's had it all ....

  • Anonymous on March 11, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Good job Ramdu. Machi what do you think about moonuranus? He should have till date thought India vs Sri lanka (400-400) the best match played ever.

  • James Ozermann on March 11, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    I remember quite a few years ago my father telling me how he and his classmates had their own version of book cricket. How they would do it, was they would designate each letter of the alphabet either a shot and runs (eg drive two runs) or a wicket. The person "batting" would call out a random page number, line, and choose a random number of letters across on that specific line (eg page 30, line 6, fourth letter) which would give them either the runs scored or wicket taken.

    I tried it and it was okay, but I was more into my other cricket games - the old test match board game and the test match game with the little felt field, the howzat dice game and my favourite the Richard Hadlee Limited Overs Cricket. I spent hours playing "test series" and "ODI's" as a kid. I once managed to play a whole world cup with seven teams and recorded meticulously every single game of that series!

  • iGalus on March 10, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    I recall the old days of playing the cloth based indoor cricket as well as the book cricket and boy, I agree with the writer on similar moment on enjoying the childhood cricket rip-offs.

  • Giri on March 10, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Great article, younger brother :). Dont forget the numerous fights we had playing indoor cricket with paper mushed like a ball and made tight using rubber band and exam pads as bat and trying to smash every furniture in the house :)

  • Redau on March 10, 2011, 19:04 GMT

    Hi This is great. My favourite childhood cricket game was what I called dice- cricket. Essentially you need a dice and a score card. You could either play alone or with friends. It involved selecting your teams and then creating a match. The dice would serve as the runs as well as who took wickets. Eg. if you threw the dice and it would land on three this would mean three runs for the batsman. If the dice lands on five this would mean out. You then also throw the dice to determine who the bowler was who took the wicket. This game provided me with endless fun.

  • TriniR on March 10, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Great article. I really got a sense of the enjoyment that the schoolboys in your story would've felt. Its a little different in the caribbean though - a bat made from a coconut branch, a ball from just about anything that you could find and a grand old pitch behind the school - all while class was on! By the way do you know of any 'private league PIN' that I could use to join my just created fantasy team?

  • Abhishek Chatterjee on March 10, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    Hi, Nostalgic post. I have played all three games mentioned here. I am trying to remember which candy it was, that I had to chomp down hundreds of, to get a flip book that could flip both ways to see K Srikanth (The original dashing opener) score a cover drive on one side, and aa hook shot on the other side. But I have one correction in the rule of book cricket. Since you always looked at the even numbered page, the possible scores were 0 - Out, 2, 4, 6, runs, and a page ending in 8 resulted in 1 run (there was no other way to get a quick single). Regards

  • moonuranus on March 10, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    I used to chew Big Fun like a bovine chewing cud just to collect those runs and wickets. I typically get the Gus Logie with 2 runs. How I used to hate that. I am surprised it is not made a come back now. The cola one featuring Sunil Gavaskar flipper card was a treasure.

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  • moonuranus on March 10, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    I used to chew Big Fun like a bovine chewing cud just to collect those runs and wickets. I typically get the Gus Logie with 2 runs. How I used to hate that. I am surprised it is not made a come back now. The cola one featuring Sunil Gavaskar flipper card was a treasure.

  • Abhishek Chatterjee on March 10, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    Hi, Nostalgic post. I have played all three games mentioned here. I am trying to remember which candy it was, that I had to chomp down hundreds of, to get a flip book that could flip both ways to see K Srikanth (The original dashing opener) score a cover drive on one side, and aa hook shot on the other side. But I have one correction in the rule of book cricket. Since you always looked at the even numbered page, the possible scores were 0 - Out, 2, 4, 6, runs, and a page ending in 8 resulted in 1 run (there was no other way to get a quick single). Regards

  • TriniR on March 10, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Great article. I really got a sense of the enjoyment that the schoolboys in your story would've felt. Its a little different in the caribbean though - a bat made from a coconut branch, a ball from just about anything that you could find and a grand old pitch behind the school - all while class was on! By the way do you know of any 'private league PIN' that I could use to join my just created fantasy team?

  • Redau on March 10, 2011, 19:04 GMT

    Hi This is great. My favourite childhood cricket game was what I called dice- cricket. Essentially you need a dice and a score card. You could either play alone or with friends. It involved selecting your teams and then creating a match. The dice would serve as the runs as well as who took wickets. Eg. if you threw the dice and it would land on three this would mean three runs for the batsman. If the dice lands on five this would mean out. You then also throw the dice to determine who the bowler was who took the wicket. This game provided me with endless fun.

  • Giri on March 10, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Great article, younger brother :). Dont forget the numerous fights we had playing indoor cricket with paper mushed like a ball and made tight using rubber band and exam pads as bat and trying to smash every furniture in the house :)

  • iGalus on March 10, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    I recall the old days of playing the cloth based indoor cricket as well as the book cricket and boy, I agree with the writer on similar moment on enjoying the childhood cricket rip-offs.

  • James Ozermann on March 11, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    I remember quite a few years ago my father telling me how he and his classmates had their own version of book cricket. How they would do it, was they would designate each letter of the alphabet either a shot and runs (eg drive two runs) or a wicket. The person "batting" would call out a random page number, line, and choose a random number of letters across on that specific line (eg page 30, line 6, fourth letter) which would give them either the runs scored or wicket taken.

    I tried it and it was okay, but I was more into my other cricket games - the old test match board game and the test match game with the little felt field, the howzat dice game and my favourite the Richard Hadlee Limited Overs Cricket. I spent hours playing "test series" and "ODI's" as a kid. I once managed to play a whole world cup with seven teams and recorded meticulously every single game of that series!

  • Anonymous on March 11, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Good job Ramdu. Machi what do you think about moonuranus? He should have till date thought India vs Sri lanka (400-400) the best match played ever.

  • Anand on March 11, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    Nostalgia !! Dice, books, flip books, name it - we who grew up in the early 1980's had it all ....

  • Guru on March 11, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Excellent post - reminds me of my school days. Abhishek is correct, 8 was for 1 run (that quick single).

    Redau, the dice cricket sounds exciting, I should try that some day :)