Over the years I have played cricket in a number of different ways, in a variety of places, and if I could not play the real game I’ve played it in my imagination – by books, by dices and sometimes just by dreaming about it.
Following is a list of twenty different ways that I’ve played cricket. See if you can connect to some of these or if you can better this list by sharing and adding your own experience to the list.
1. Street Cricket
This type of cricket is usually played in the middle of the road. And if the road is very busy then the players are ‘forced’ to play on the side of the road. The stumps are made up of any kind of material imaginable e.g. an old chair, Stones or bricks, slippers of all the players, school bags, trash cans etc.
One universal rule of street cricket is the ‘house-out’. This happens when a direct hit goes into a neighborhood house. The reason this hit is an ‘out’ is because of the nuisance it causes to retrieve the ball. Sometimes commando actions of climbing over the walls, cupolas, gutters, roofs, trees etc. are conducted by the players to retrieve the ball.
Once a neighbor on our street got so fed up by the constant barrage of tennis balls landing in their house that they used a knife and cut our tennis ball into two and then threw both pieces out on the street.
2. Beach Cricket
This is another very famous form of cricket. The trick here is that team batting first always has a better chance of winning. The reason is because the soft sandy pitch becomes unplayable by the time second team is ready to bat. Sometimes the high tide in afternoon games also comes up too quick for a game to finish properly – therefore it is always advisable to bat first in a beach game.
My all time favorites is an indoor game of cricket called “Cricket at Home”. This game is played on the floor or any other flat surface. This game is now extinct. I have been looking for this game for the past 20 years and I cannot find it. Its price until the late 1980s used to be Rs25 ($0.2) only. I used to own five such sets of cricket-at-home and used to arrange whole World Cup tournaments with them. I also used to write down scores and keep statistics of my cricket teams in a special statistics journal.
Those who have played ‘cricket at home’ know that the plastic bowler in this game has a rubber-band powered arm. It throws ball like a sling shot under tension. I used to use 4 rubber bands for a fast bowler, 2 for medium pacers and a really loose one for a spinner. By turning the hook in bowler’s arm I had mastered the art of swing and curved bowling. I used to make my own wooden bats by filing and chiseling them. I also used balls made out of chalk which used to deteriorate after 40 overs. Thats how I simulated the concept of ‘new ball.’ To simulate different pitches, I used a square foot of a carpet piece (which simulated a turning wicket.) If I pretended to be playing on Australian pitches, I used ‘metal strips’ to simulate the hard-bouncy wicket of WACA Perth and a wooden one to simulate dead batting wickets.
If you remember the Mechanical counter of yesteryears then that used to be my digital scoreboard. In every room of our house, I had built a stadium and named them after different stadia of cricketing world e.g. my bedroom was Karachi, our living room was Melbourne etc. By the time I reached 7th grade, I had started arranging flood lit day-night matches by putting four, 100Watt electric bulbs on wooden sticks around my stadiums on carpet.
I had reserved few card board players to look like the real life players. e.g. I had drawn moustaches with a black marker on my Javed Miandad, my Zaheer Abbas used to wear glasses like the real Zaheer, Imran had curly hair, Salim Yousuf the wicket keeper had wicket-keeping pads drawn on his legs etc.
Cricket at home was fun while it lasted and then I grew out of it. But now I miss it.
4. Roof Cricket
This is played on apartment building roofs. Uniqueness of this cricket is that a hit outside the boundary will cost you a trip down the tall building. An elevator is not a guaranteed installation in some of the residential buildings. Imagine retrieving a ball down from 6th floor after every shot that went over.
5. Class Room Cricket
This form of cricket is played in the short 5 min interval between the study periods or whenever a teacher is late showing up for a class. Table tennis balls are used. Broken chair pieces, writing boards or cylindircal drawing sheet holders are used as bats.
6. Living Room Cricket
This type of cricket is played only when parents are not home. The wicket is usually made of sofa cushions. Fielders are usually placed on top of furniture due to lack of space. Sometimes to keep a batsman in check, a one-tip-out rule is implemented. This means a batsman is out if a fielder catches the shot even after one bounce. The batting technique to survive here is to press ball towards the ground as if you are burying it under ground.
7. Curved Street Cricket
Curved streets are very common in older localities. I’ve had honors of playing street cricket near Punjabi club in Kharadar, Karachi. The street pitch there is located at an inresection of 5 streets. The street straight ahead curves at an angle of 60 degrees and then the cricket boundary is reached. The best way to score boundary (a 4 or a 6) here is to hit straight and then hope for a reflection at 60 degrees from the building ahead of you. This type of rules only happen in kharadar.
Curved Street cricket in Kharadar is only played at night. During day time this place is so busy that a person born on one side of the road can never dream of crossing it to the other in his life time.
8. Verandah Cricket
This form of cricket is also played indoors but with a bit more room available than living room. Bat is usually made of a straight timber with handle made by wrapping a towel with electric tape. The straight timber is usually the ‘beading’ used as wooden window frames. Ball is usually the table tennis ball with electric tape wrapped on it for weight and swing.
9. Book Cricket
This form of cricket is played by opening a thick book repeatedly. The least significant digit of even-numbered pages is used as cricket scores with 0 being out and 8 being considered as a sixer. 2, 4 and 6 are noted down as 2, 4 and 6 runs.
See the photo. That is a ‘six.’
The problem with this form of cricket are the bent pages in a book. After few tries a player figures out where to open the book to get same score. Fielding side i.e. the person not using the book has to vigilant about such tricks from the batting side i.e. the person opening the book.
10. Board Cricket
This form of cricket is played as a board game with a dice. As your ‘disc’ moves on a board with every throw of dice, you are able to score runs as well as there is a chance of arriving in a box called ‘Out’. Two discs are used to simulate two batsmen. After every over or after an odd-run, the batsmen rotate throwing of dice. Just like in real cricket.
Photo to the left shows one version of board cricket. There are several more types available in the market.
11. Cricket with a Dice
This is the easiest form of cricket. It is played by throwing a dice. A Five is an out (because it is very rare that 5 runs are scored in cricket). All others faces of the dice are considered as runs.
12. Cricket with a ‘ganji’ (hairless) tennis ball dipped in water
To play this type cricket you first needed a hair-less (ganji) tennis ball. A ganji tennis ball was meticulously obtained by burning its hair on a cooking stove flame. Now to make the ball travel faster we used to put lotas (pots) full of water near the bowling end. Bowlers used to dip the ball in these water pots before bowling to the batsmen. The water on a bald tennis ball reduces the friction and this ball travels like a bullet. These were pre-tape-ball days in Pakistan. Once Pakistani street cricket moved on to playing tennis cricket by wrapping electric tape on it, the ‘ganji‘ ball cricket died its natural death. Some of the important artifacts of ganji ball cricket were the dirty water stains that were plastered all over your clothes if you missed any shot.
13. Cricket on Red-Brick surface.
I used to play this tricky cricket whenever I travelled up country. Especially in Punjab where red clay bricks are used instead of cement bricks. The tennis/tape-tennis ball turns unpredictably on bricked surface and batting is very tricky.
14. Small Cricket
This form of cricket is played inside a house especially where there is an extreme danger of breaking window glasse, electric bulbs etc.
This is called ‘choTee’ (small) cricket because ball is delivered as an under-arm throw and batting is done left-handed. All right handed batsmen have to play left-handed and vice versa. This is done to challenge and downgrade their batting skills and hence save the glass windows and electric bulbs.
Despite playing ‘small’ cricket I once managed to brake a gate light in neighbors house. The scolding we all got that day from Mr. neighbor with the choicest of words still remains fresh in my memory.
15. Hill Cricket
The rules and consequences of long hitting are very similar to cricket on the roof version. I witnessed it first hand by playing on the plateau hills of Safari Park and Hill Park in Karachi. Every long shot used to go down the hill. We had to place few people from batting side under the hill so they can throw the balls back up the hill.
16. Cricket on Commodore 64
When Commodore 64 computers came out in 1980s, the game of cricket made headlines on it. I also got chance to play it. It was indeed a step forward in fantasy cricket. The game had some problem though as the team playing first always won the game. Does anybody remember this cricket game on commodore 64?
17. Playing circket in a flooded street after rains
The playing area deliberately includes the flooded portion of the street. This adds to the challenge for a batsman on how to play incoming balls. Clothes of batsmen invariably get marked with a wet spot every time a ball hits him. Bowlers also try to aim for batsmen’s clothes. This is done all in the good spirit of gamesman ship.
18. Playing Cricket in Dense Fog
This type of cricket adds the joy of unpredictability and reduced visibility among fielders. A shot that goes too high may disappear for a bit and fielders that are placed on boundary may have hard time seeing the game at the center. Voice communication like ‘abay lena…pakrana’ (take it…grab it) is the key to success while fielding in such foggy conditions. Another interesting part of fog cricket is how a fast bowler with a long run-up appears to a typical batsman. Imagine a bowler with 24 or 32 step run-up looks like a silhouette in dense fog. And as the bowler starts running towards the batsman, his form and shape starts changing from a ghost to a human and before you know, he throws a ball at you. Lets just say it is very interesting to face a fast bowler in dense fog.
19. Cricket with a Laundry Beater
Before the advent of laundry machines, some of you may remember a crude cricket bat shaped wooden beater that was used to wash clothes. Well since it was shaped like a hastily made cricket bat, it naturally served as a make shift cricket bat too. I played a lot of cricket with this laundry beater. Believe it or not it was also my first ‘hard ball’ bat. I had got my gloves, pads, shoes etc. before I got a real hard ball bat. Until then I used the laundry beater as my bat – to the amusement of whole neighborhood.
20. Cricket with a hockey stick
This is the most extreme sport. I mean, how much cricket crazy you have to be to pick up a hockey stick and then use it as a cricket bat. Well, I’ve been there and done that. Because a hockey stick is so narrow, it improves your technique of middling the ball with a real cricket bat.
I’ve listed 20 forms of cricket above but there may be countless more. It is a very imaginative sport. Do you have any other form of cricket experience to share? Please do so in the comments section below.