Whole-some fun days at Somas threatened?
If you were ever a resident of T.Nagar and if you are a cricket fanatic, then you will never forget "Somas". "Somas", as the Corporation ground off North Usman Road is/was fondly called, has been for quite some time now, the breeding ground for budding cricketers in the adjoining areas. I have been hearing about the IDPL ground lately (courtesy the Cooling gang), but Somas still occupies a special place in my heart.
Somas was one of the places (the other being the Corporation Ground in Venkat Narayana Road, opposite Natesan Park) where I started my competitive cricket. By competitive cricket, i mean the war types where every wicket is like a drop of blood and you have to fight for it. I have been involved in certain fiascos as well. The first of these that comes to mind is the "Recall the batsman" incident. The match is still etched into my mind, because i was in the thick of things right from the word go.
The above mentioned incident is from a match between the 9th standard A and B sections in my school. I was in the A section and was part of the team as well. The A and the B sections were always in logger heads, till our 10th standard when the sections were mixed up to ensure "common educational levels" (as my Vice Principal said a couple of years later when I met her). Now the match was a part of a series of tennis-ball cricket matches that were played almost ever weekend throughout that year or part of it.
This guy Satish (fondly called Nattai, meaning Tall, because of his gangling gait), was the most technically perfect batsman in the B section (if not the whole school) and also the most competitive. He was also the best bowler, again because of his height and he had very good bouncer (if i remember right). He was batting, in the 20s when there was this terrible mixup and both batsmen were stranded out of the crease. The umpire (who was from the battting side) could not figure out who was out and there was extreme confusion. We were obviously claiming the wicket of Satish and he was not ready to walk. Being a pre-teen, the other batsman was more worried about getting his gachi (popular lingo for "quality batting time") and hence was claiming he was not out and that Satish had to go. So the ensuing confusion the B section team decided that they were not going to play anymore and they walked out. We said "fine" and we walked off too. None of us were getting off from the ground and we were just milling about.
I don't know what got into me then, but I just suggested why dont we forget everything and recall the batsmen. Nobody from my own team opposed me. Atleast the majority seemed to think that it was better in the interests of the game, to continue. and after quite a bit of discussion we decided that the ball was to be re-bowled.
After this the whole match turned around. Satish decimated the bowling. I think I bowled a few overs too (why, I will tell soon) and though I want to think otherwise, I feel I was not spared. But personal consolation comes when I think about Satish's dismissal, sadly only after he scored a century. He was caught brilliantly, a running catch taken inches off the ground by yours truly in deep cover. But the damage had been done and Satish probably holds the record for the only century ever in all forms of cricket between the A section and B section. But more consolation comes from the fact that when we batted, I top scored with 21 (playing with a bye-runner as usual, I should add). But this incident was/has been repeated whenever there was talk about inter-class cricket.
Another cricketing incident that has made me famous among my classmates was the "Mine" incident. I don't know if it was the same match mentioned above, but the teams involved were the same. And even the batsman in question was the same Nattai. I was bowling my gentle medium pacers (or was it my off spinners, that I used to bowl till I dramatically lost the ability) to Nattai when he stepped out and tried to pull me to the mid-wicket fence. He got, but a top edge and the ball went high up in the air over the pitch.
What happened then has been repeated zillions of times, much to my embarassment. Apparently I waved my hands like a duck flapping its wings and ran down the length of the pitch, shouting "Mine" at the top of my voice (which is really loud, if you have not heard me). And promptly the ball slips through my cupped fingers and every one looks at me like my fly was open all day and they had come to know of it just then. That was so embarassing. I have taken some wonderful catches from then on, but the stigma of the "Mine" incident has stuck to me since then.
But I remember the stage for all these incidents fondly and most of my friends spend a lot of time there in the evenings talking, sitting in the wall next to the floodlit basketball court.
Somas has apparently fallen into bad times as this article in today's Hindu mentions, but its heartening to see the residents take up the cudgels to protect this place. I am sure a lot of us, who have grown up playing cricket there at Somas would be glad to help.