When they decided to make cricket more popular they came up with a form called IPL which had its own set of rules to start with. Team allegiances were changed and the country wise fan following were jeopardized by the affinity for the local team.

Same happened in the backyard of the Houses of Kazhak when SocksBall Cricket had to be played. But we went a bit too far with modifications. The changes affected even the basics like bat, ball and stumps. Hockey sticks doubled up as bats, balled-up old pairs of socks made the balls and the wall-chalked stumps substituted. At the commencement of the game, the team captains moves to the centre of the court and decides upon the set of rules for the game. Rules regarding back runs, last man batting, scoring off lbw, tree fielders, single man batting, first ball out or not, wides, no balls, boundaries, fastness of the bowling, the negotiations rivaled a Japanese corporate take-over meeting.

Sample this : The walls of Rajaji House, on bounce is a four, smack down is a sixer, any window pane on full is a sixer and far out on the shoulders of the road leading to Tagore House without a bounce is a sixer and out (being closer to a Senior house like Ashoka, a threat of seniors engaging the fielder is high) . The roof of Rajaji House is six and out. One touch catch from a tree is out , but multiple bouncing on a tree is not out. Get the idea?

It was unpredictability with a capital U. One match wonder often stole the thunder. Cricket czars were cut to size by fleeting gladiators leaving cricket gurus with lips plastered cross. Shy of gambling their acquired fame from predictable regular cricket, the stalwarts in that game left the Colosseum of SBC vacant for the ones who dared. Hence we had another exclusive set of heroes for SBC battle hardened by ever frequent changes in fortunes. Hence they were heroes both on and off the field. A sixer, and all hell breaks loose. Chests bump, cheering shrill, and the shouting brings the roof down ushering in the festival of SBC. Feeding the SocksBall cricket, frenzy cadets always crowded around, aligned generally along the imaginary contour of the field loosely demarcated by landmarks carefully leaving the one day plants to live to see another day. Unlike in the dull cricket proceedings, in SBC with its electrifying atmosphere you don’t wait to get your eyes in and waste a couple of overs playing safe shots sapping the excitement. In SBC once you are in you are in it with your whole body, soul and spirit from the very first. Intense is the involvement, intense the passion, hence supplication the only refuge. Consequently, friendly matches were the ones that were most unfriendly, owing to lack of a dedicated umpires.

With the batsmen, bowler and fielders all very animated, in comes Jayashanker, umpiring matching the prevalent spirit. With his animated actions and incendiary temper, even the act of umpiring was a treat for the eyes. Here I venture to make a remark that he invented the Billy Bowden-ism of signaling in cricket ahead of the man himself. His signaling carried a chilling gravity as it somehow conveyed the celebration of someone’s insult rather than the jubilation at some one’s triumph which were simultaneous occurrences in this game.

Like in the case of normal cricket which started in Sussex and Kent carried forward as Krekket by English school students and which went onto become a religion in many countries, hope SBC spreads its spirit to all corners of the world in the days to come. And when they record the history of this game, it is hoped that  its origin be rightfully assigned to this school, and the fiery matches which used to be played in the backyard of houses be remembered.

Here is a close cousin od SocksBall Cricket. Almost.

13 Responses

  1. Ya Prince and I lost against Kuru…he battered me royally…I was almost on the verge of losing my whole incisors (already I had lost a portion of it)…thanks Kuru showed some mercy on that…..Referee Pillai Sir was asking me repeatedly whether I wanted to surrender, but I didnt surrender…Our House Master Kandasamy Sir congratulated me on that count that I didnt surrender…haha…..

  2. oops ..sorry ..correction..peesu getting green card after every exam (not every month)……see…am still weak when it comes to reading and writing.. 😛

  3. Peesu, I remember you were very good hockey player and a very good runner, but what I remember the most about you is that you were very good at studies, you used to get the green card every month…right?… the image of you marching to receive the green card from the Principal is still vivid in my mind…

  4. you guys have good memory of the SBC we played in veluthampi and tagore days. In my memory ingrained are our highly charged SBC in Ashoka Seniors. Being a hockey school team power back, hitting those socks ball with the high accuracy and strength was a breeze till the socks ball looses its stiffness. Gosh was our expert in making socks balls which could withstand the brute power of Vinay Ranjan’s hands. Ah those Ashoka senior days…Satchi as you suggested we should rekindle the fire..I am already charged up

  5. Ya Prince, I am game for it, we should take SBC to a new level….every equiptment will remain the same including the bat which is a hockey stick…yes I remember Tags won the match in 6th standard and then I dont exactly remember whether Velus won the match next year as it rained halfway through the match and I dont think D/L method was applied for that match…hahaha…..Sandeep was our captain and yes we had a very fine player in Rajesh M…..

  6. hi satchi,
    we were not that lucky to spectate your’s and sandeep’s exploits in SBC. But the way you used to entertain us in regular cricket is still green in my mind. If i remember correct we tags won regular cricket in the 6th std and the coming year velus managed to take sweet revenge. Jacob sebastian used to be tag’s captain and either of you or m was velu’s captain. I suggest we can rekindle the fire of SBC in the coming OBAs onwards. Juz food for thought.

  7. Wow Prince..thanks for bringing alive the memories of socks ball cricket. We, the Veluthampi guys, used to play SBC in our 3-dormitory study room (the one which was not used for studies), even here the atmosphere used to be same as you have mentioned, not sure if Gopinath (Veluthampi’s walking computer) used to maintain a separate record for SBC…haha..just kidding…sadly we didnt have interhouse SBC matches. But what I liked the most in the SBC was the socks ball itself, the making of it. I dont know who started it, but it was Sandeep who taught me how to make a good socks ball using paper pulp. He used to pay attention to every detail while making the ball, he even used to stitch the two seams to make it look like a cricket ball and what bounce it used to have, almost like a rubber ball. I must also mention, he used to play SBC as better as he used to play the actual cricket – a superb player. As you rightly mentioned, if this game becomes popular, the credit should go to our school.

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