Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan  (Read 2174 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Teddy

  • World XI Star
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 998
The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
« on: March 03, 2006, 01:23:57 AM »

The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
B Mihir Bose



If English cricket is essentially rural, Indian cricket is urban. Its roots lie in the lanes of India's teaming cities and on the broad patches of green, called the maidans, that occasionally break up the monotony of concrete.

The maidan is, probably, the most evocative place in Indian urban life. It has been called the equivalent of an English park, but this is grossly misleading. The only similarity it has with a park is that it is a vast, open area, very often at the centre of cities. But beyond that there are no similarities.

It is not merely that the grass in an English park is much greener and finer than that of the maidan, but that whereas an English park is an oasis of calm, a shelter from the hustle and bustle of city life, the maidan reproduces Indian city life with all its noise and clamour. The grass is matted, struggling to stay alive amid the dirt and rubble.

Flowing through the maidan are little canals, the surface is pock-marked with ditches, even what look like small ravines, and the whole area is filled with people from every walk of life. It is amid such confusion and noise that Indians learn to play their cricket.

But just as the lotus, that great Hindu flower, springs from the dirtiest and most inhospitable of surroundings, so does Indian cricket arise, grow and blossom on these maidans dotted all over the urban landscape.

Nowhere can maidan cricket be better appreciated than in Bombay, particularly south Bombay, where I grew up. That area is dominated by three great maidans: Azad, Cross and the Oval. Azad, meaning free, had the distinction of being the home of the club to which Vijay Merchant, one of India's great batsmen, belonged. Opposite is the Cross, so called because at one end there is a huge cross. Azad is a regular venue for many of the matches played in the inter-schools tournaments of the city, named after Lord Harris, a former governor of Bombay. This is what may be called mali-dominated cricket.

Mali is the Indian word for gardener but the malis of the maidans were not mere gardeners, they were far more formidable. Malis generally live in the shacks that dot the edge of a maidan and efficiently police the pitches on the maidans.

These pitches are distinguished from the rest of the field, not merely in the normal cricket sense but by special arrangements. No sooner is a cricket match over than the mali comes trundling in with wooden staves and ropes and encloses the whole area of the pitch. It would not take much to remove the staves and ropes, but such is the aura possessed by these illiterate yet shrewd guardians of the pitches of the maidan that nobody dares.

Also, playing on these pitches is part of the rites of passage of growing up to become a cricketer in India. Along with the pitch comes a tent, specially erected for the match and acting as a pavilion and changing rooms, with a little cubicle attached serving as a lavatory. It is when the malis start erecting the tents that the people on the maidan know that a proper cricket match, on a proper pitch, is about to be played.

The maidan pitches are also used for net practice - mostly on weekday afternoons. The Azad maidan lay between school and home, and on my way back from school I would occasionally pause to watch these cricket nets and find nothing surprising in the fact that the batsmen practised at the nets with their boxes happily attached outside their trousers. Today, when I revisit Bombay and occasionally visit Azad maidan, the sight of hundreds of batsmen in full cricket regalia proudly displaying their boxes as they practise the forward defensive stroke seems odd, even faintly obscene.

Most of my maidan cricket, and for that matter most people's, was played on dirt tracks with some grass on it which formed the space between the pitches. This is not the only impromptu part of maidan cricket. Lack of equipment means batsmen often wear a solitary pad to cover the leg that is facing the bowler.

Not surprisingly, maidan cricket gave rise to a new vocabulary. Thus, maidan cricket uses the expression 'runner' in a totally different way from the common cricketing meaning of the term. In cricket, a runner is the one who runs for a batsman who has been injured during the game. In maidan cricket, the No 1 batsman is called the 'opener', his partner is called the 'runner.'

Very often in this class of cricket there are only three stumps and the stumps at the bowler's end are indicated by a pile of chappals - Indian slippers - heaped at the spot where the proper stumps would be. The runner is the one who immediately takes up his position at the chappal end.

But perhaps the most major innovation of maidan cricket is the re-interpretation of the two-fingered salute. Now, normally in cricket the index finger of the right hand raised to the heavens is seen as the traditional mark of the umpire's decision in favour of the fielding side.

This is all very well when the umpire is giving a decision in favour of the fielding side. But what if he is signifying not out? How does he do it? He could say "not out", but in maidan cricket this is considered not enough. So an innovation has been introduced whereby one finger raised to the heavens is out and two fingers raised to the heavens is not out. In maidan cricket, the umpire wishing to turn down an appeal doesn't say "not out" or shake his head - a gesture which in India has a very different meaning - but raises the index and middle fingers of his right hand.

I have many happy memories of maidan cricket but none more so than my friend Eddy. He was much taken by The Guns of Navarone. This was around 1962 and the film had just been released in Bombay. Eddy, if I remember rightly, saw it half a dozen times and his particular favourite was the moment when David Niven tells Gregory Peck that he must kill his Greek girlfriend as she is really a German spy. Eddy would love declaiming Niven's speech to Peck, "Do it for England".

Eddy and I would often bat together and during our partnership he would come down the wicket and say: "Do it for England." So there in that Bombay maidan, encouraged by this stirring call, I would knuckle down to steer our side to victory.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml;jsessionid=D3CUPJY2WXQNTQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/sport/2006/03/01/scbokk01.xml&sSheet=/sport/2006/03/03/ixcrick.html
Logged

kban1

  • Administrator
  • Team of the Century
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 9,966
Re: The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2006, 01:26:17 AM »

Good post Teddy

applause forthcoming  ;D
Logged

kingcool1432

  • Hakuna Matata
  • Team of the Century
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2,212
Re: The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2006, 01:51:02 AM »

Oh , maidan  , read it as 'maiden' wen i came in to look  :( ;)
Logged
Reality continues to ruin my life.  Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, p67-1

justforkix

  • Global Moderator
  • Team of the Century
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14,896
Re: The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2006, 01:58:42 AM »

Oh , maidan  , read it as 'maiden' wen i came in to look  :( ;)

Me too. The misleading British Press  >:( >:( >:(
Logged

Aloo Kashmiri Ul Haq

  • Bismallah Rahim izzz I izzz score 15017 runs
  • Team of the Century
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2,098
  • sekho na naino ki bhasha..
Re: The joy of being bowled over by an Indian maidan
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2006, 03:53:30 AM »

where r the mallika sherawat pictures
Logged
Why did the chicken cross the road?

According to Le Chatelier:
 
The chicken crossed the road because there were too many moles of chicken
on the reactants side of the road equilibrium.
Pages: [1]   Go Up