A single cricket ball can draw a crowd in India. All it takes is for us four children to start throwing the ball. At first it will be only the little children who come to join in, then the older ones. Sometimes, even older men will play with us. The parents will then come to speak to Mum and Dad. It doesn’t feel like we are just tourists, but friends.
One of our fondest cricket adventures, was playing with the tuk-tuk drivers in Jaipur. The game started simply with us four tossing the ball in the street in front of our hotel. Ten metres from where we were playing about 15 tuk-tuk drivers were resting under a tree, waiting for business and watching us with longing smiles.
It took only one man, who could not resist the urge to come towards us and cup his hands for the ball, to encourage the rest to forget about their afternoon nap. Initially, we only played catch, showing off all sorts of tricks. Later a rough wooden plank became our bat, we formed teams and really got playing.
It was heaps of fun and we played for the entire day in the middle of the road, between the cows, dogs, tuk-tuks, people, cars, busses and scooters. Play is constantly interrupted by passing people or vehicles. The result is that it is a very fast game, with everyone making the most of every opportunity. Players come and go. Some even come very suddenly! A number of times, some of the scooter drivers, waiting in the traffic at the intersection, would reach out to “field” and toss the ball back before speeding off.
We were referred to as ‘The Aussies’. I chuckled as the one man asked me why the people always shout ‘Aussie! Aussie!’ at cricket matches. How do you answer that? No matter what I told him, and even though he nodded as if he understood, I could see very clearly, as he walked away, that he was still puzzled.
The “international” game became so important, that a few cars would patiently wait for the over to be completed before honking and slowly moving though the game. I’m sure the Jaipur tuk-tuk drivers will never forget how they played street cricket against the Aussies. We definitely won’t forget.
Until next time,