The Day I Turned Ninety

Saturday, November 26, 2011 will always remain etched in my memory as a historic occasion, a day to remember and revere as I try to live out the remainder of my days painfully. I aged dramatically that day and it reminded me of The Last Crusade, where the bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and turns into an aged, shriveled skeleton in a matter of seconds.

It was a really bad decision to play a professional cricket match with no practice.

I used to play a lot of cricket as a kid. Played for the school and college teams and garnered a bit of pro experience here and there. I wasn’t a great cricketer, but I wasn’t too bad either. I could hold my own against the real professionals. But, its been an awfully long time since I’ve played competitive, professional cricket, and I’ve been woefully out of touch and practice. I have put on a few extra kilos around the middle and I don’t move as quickly as I used to. I had completely forgotten what a grueling ordeal it is to be out on a cricket field on a hot and humid day for six hours.

As I started with my warm-up stretches in the morning, I wondered whether the exercises had become tougher over the past few years. I soon realized that my body was resisting it after being accustomed to comfortable couches and soft beds. I forced myself to finish the work-out and to my horror, found out that the match had already started, that my team was batting first and that I was to bat at Number 3. For those who are uninitiated into the sport of cricket, if you’re third in the batting order, then you go out to bat as soon as the first wicket falls.

I padded up in a hurry, went out to bat when the first wicket fell and was clean bowled first ball. I didn’t seem to notice the ball zooming past my bat and my sluggish head was still trying to decide what to do about it, while I made the long walk back to the pavilion.

When it was our turn to field, I shuttled from one end of the field to the other after each over and by the time we were halfway through, I was ready to drop dead. I prayed for a natural disaster to disrupt the match, I prayed for the opposition to knock off the runs quickly and I prayed for an excuse that would allow me to get off the field with a feigned ‘injury’.

By the end of the day, after we had lost spectacularly, my feet were beyond pain and I had to remove my shoes and carry them with me as I hopped painfully into a cab to come back home. My entire body was one big bruise. I ached in places I didn’t know could ache. Muscles that I didn’t know I had, hurt each time I did something trivial. It was painful for me to spray deodorant on myself because my finger hurt when I squeezed the can.

The whole of yesterday was spent in recuperating at home, in bed, with timely cups of hot tea.

Saturday, November 26, 2011. The day I stopped being twenty-eight.

The day I turned ninety.

Gully Cricket Season!

After recent events in the world of cricket, it’s that time of the year again, when Sundays are reserved for playing gully cricket! 😀

I have always been a cricketer, training under Brijesh Patel and Anil Kumble at the BPCA, starting at the tender age of 12. Now, it’s been almost three years since I held a bat in my hand and played the game, and yesterday, it was back to basics! In front of my house, there’s a good 20 yards of space to play cricket in, and when we were still young, innocent kids, the entire compound got together to play. I learnt how to play the game here, in front of my house, and yesterday, I walked down memory lane again.

I bought a tennis ball and dusted my old bat and coaxed my terrorist brother to abandon his studies and play with me. We started playing something called “short cricket” where the batsman can become out with a “pitch catch” and by hitting the ball out of the compound. We played for nearly three hours, with a cousin of ours, who stays close by also joining in. 😀

I had almost forgotten the quirky little things like calling out “Ball, please!” to passers by, whenever the ball went out of the gate and on to the main road; calling out “Fast Appeal!” whenever the ball missed my bat and hit the wicket; refusing to give up my wicket unless there was hard evidence that the ball hit the makeshift wicket; running behind the ball trying to prevent it from reaching the other end of the compound for a boundary; and all the other funny little things that kids do when they play cricket. 😀

We reminisced about the time when cricket in our compound was a major event – kids from all over the neighborhood would come to play here, we once had installed a 60-watt bulb through some very ingenious engineering and played through the night – our very own version of floodlight cricket! 😀

Oh, those were the days! We stopped playing when I hit the ball out of the gate and it landed inside a passing auto and the auto guy never realized it and drove away with the tennis ball inside! Bastard! 😀

Image Courtesy: The Hindu