Galli Cricket or Street cricket is the highly simplified version of modern day international cricket. All the rules are customised based on the needs of the cricketers or the location of the ground. Usually you don’t have LBW, leg byes, byes or overthrows. None of the rubbish Duckworth-lewis rules apply here. If it rains, you go home, that’s it. Of course, you keep cursing the team that had already finished their batting.
There is no third umpire. In fact, everyone on the field is an umpire and has the right and will voice their opinion about a dismissal. Usually, you have the entire batting team opposing the dismissal and the entire bowling team celebrating the dismissal even before it is accepted by the batsman. There are a few honest galli cricketers who, to avoid lying, say that they were watching some birds in the distance and didn’t notice the dismissal.
Here, in Cyprus, we have all variations of cricket. We have a team playing the “proper” big-boys cricket with the leather ball. They also participate in the National League. We also have the regular weekend cricket (with tennis ball) which follows all the rules (like bowling, both sides batsmen etc). Finally, we have the Galli cricket version. I play in all the three, but the galli cricket is the most entertaining of the lot as it gives me an opportunity to not only hone my off-side-strokes in cricket (we have runs only on the off side), but also my negotiation/communication skills.
Someone once said that Tennis was a waste of time, as the time spent on actual tennis-playing was a fraction of the whole time on the field. You should come and see our Galli cricket. The actual time spent arguing/fighting overshadows the actual cricketing time. Every ball bowled, every run taken requires an approval from all on the field.
A visitor to our Galli cricket will be a witness to some strange scenes. Some times, he will see a fielder accompanying a ball, but not attempting to stop it. This is because of a rule that if a ball rolls out of the boundary of the field (behind the batsman), no runs (even those which the batsman has already taken) count. So, the fielder waits until the ball rolls out of the ground.
The strangest rule we have is called the “Change on intention” rule. If after having started a run, you realise that you are not going to make it to the other end, you can , at any point during the run, stop, turn and face the batting end. What this means is that you have changed your intention and no longer interested in taking a run. So, you cannot be made run-out at the bowlers end. Well, if you don’t want to take a run, can you be run-out ? Of course not, Its not fair, right ?
Not all the people like this rule, because it seems that it favours few who are physically fit. Like the famous Magnus Magnusson of BBC Mastermind used to say “I’ve started, so I’ll finish”, some players say “I’ve started, so i have to finish”. This is because of their relatively bigger size which in turn means a bigger momentum. Thus, once they start running, there is no way they can stop mid-way and turn around!
Traditionally, we have had the same two teams for the past few years. I pick some players (usually anyone new joins my team) and the there are a group of players who have always been in the opposite side. They are individually good players, but collectively …The people in the photos below (Mani and Guru) belong to my team and the keeper (Ganesh) is one of the senior members of the other team. Look at the elegance of my team member’s front foot strokes and look at the way the keeper is totally isolated from the line of the ball. No wonder they drop so many catches and we win!
Traditionally, my teams wins most of the matches. But, we do have the rare surprise like last week, when they won 3-0. But, these are as rare as “put whatever you think happens very rarely here”. I used to send mails around the Thursday or Friday of every week for the game on the weekend. Invariably, i write something which infuriates the members of the “other” team and it becomes an all-out email war.
During a party, i caught all members of the opposite team having a drink. Later, they became the cast of a famous DVD-release!
Last week, Puneeth bought his new Nikon D-40 to the ground and he shot lot of good photographs. One of them caught me while fielding and returning the ball and it was cool ! Incidently, the batsman in the foreground (Mani) applied the famous “Change of Intention” rule and escaped getting run-out.