Hand, book or just plain old bat and ball.

All the versions of Cricket that have thrown our lives into total, but pleasant disarray.

The sweet thumping sounds of little fingers against palms – as they simultaneously try to chalk up scores their seven-year old minds find hard to process (What is 6+4+6+4 all done very quickly?) – is especially soothing when I am trying to negotiate miles of traffic on the way to swimming camp with a car full of little (loud) bodies.

Book cricket needs a mama to total up the scores (161+204+121+ don’t try to peek – this one’s not counted!) or else the players have to repose immense trust in the impartiality of the chosen umpire, who in a grand leap of faith in himself, squints at the scores for sometime and then pronounces the winner.

Though my favourite is hand cricket, book cricket requires that the boys first make teams. This is a lengthy process. Each player writes down the names of the cricketers in his team (only 5 players are picked) and only then do they (and the noise) start. Spellings are given their due, but the boys don’t believe in bothering too much about unnecessary detail. Names are abbreviated (Yuv suits Yuvraj a lot more than Yuvraj does, don’t you think?), initials abound and Ishaan once wanted to know if it was Sachint or Sachin?

Of course nothing beats the actual game, played amongst yells of ‘Out!Don’t lie!Cheater!’ much squabbling, crying and a few random acts of violence (‘Put the bat down! Now!”). Every player wants to be Dhoni or Sachint, while poor, bearded Yusuf Pathan gets no takers. There are no rules, or if they are, they are fluid: in a state of constant motion.

I tried to umpire them once. I am proud to say that they played a fair game, with the teams equally balanced, not all the best players lumped against the worst as is the normal practise. Of course, we had to stop pretty quickly as the kids didn’t want to play anymore.

IPL matches are the cherries on the icing. They make sure we end the day together like a nice, happy family, as snuggle down in front of the t.v. and change loyalties faster than Ranbir Kapoor changes girlfriends.

Aah, this is the life. Thank you cricket. We love you.

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