Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Abhay's cricket attacks!

Partly published in Parent Edge  blog . 

Why do I have to study science if I want to become a cricketer?” was one of the questions I had to encounter when coaching Abhay for his exams this year! I am not sure whether it’s a natural progression of interest for boys his age or inspiration from his cousins (who are district/club level under-14 players), but I have no idea when my nine year old turned from a regular cricket fan (or so I thought!) into a wannabe cricketer! Over the last year…Abhay’s interest in cricket has transformed into almost an obsession … with him swinging his bat, practicing his bowling and watching long forgotten matches on sports channels back-to-back and so on and so forth! So this summer, we had no choice but to enroll him into a cricket coaching camp, where he goes every morning, lugging his cricket kit that seems larger than him! J As if that were not enough, we have to tolerate his continuous chatter and live demonstration of various cricketing techniques he’s learned at the camp…..all day!!!! So it’s all about cricket, cricket and more cricket this summer! 

In fact, buying his cricket kit almost felt like a coming-of-age event of sorts, with our nine year old, dizzy with excitement over choosing the best cricket gear for his game, in the company of his equally excited but more-seasoned and experienced cricketer cousins!! We are not certain if his new-found sporting activity is just for summer or a year- long affair or beyond, but all I can say is that it’s his job to dream and our job to provide the right pitch for him to realize his dream!  That said…. as he dons his cricketing gear, we can’t help but notice that our little boy in white looks all grown up!!

Ever since Abhay’s interest in cricket grew, I have been on the look-out for  good books on cricket for young readers and I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this book written by our favourite author! What are the chances of finding a book written by Ruskin Bond on cricket …right?? I grabbed it as soon as I chanced upon it! So we begin this IPL cricket season with the best - Ruskin Bond’s recent offering “Ranji’s wonderful bat and other stories” that is not only makes for an engaging read but also brings out the pleasures and pains it takes to watching and playing the gentlemen’s game respectively.  This wonderful compilation includes some of Bond's early stories featuring twelve year old Ranji and his love for cricket. I’m sure  Ranji’s emphatic  “I want to be a test cricketer when I grow up, of what use will Maths be to me?” does echo some the sentiments of our wannabe cricketers at home …doesn’t it??  While this book, brought out by Puffin, the children's publication wing of Penguin publications, has cricket as it's centrepiece, it's not all about cricket either, and other stories revolve around sporting activities in general, sportsmanship spirit and many a nature adventures. This curated collection also contains excerpts from his novel (that we had featured a while ago) "The Hidden pool"  that showcase unconventional sporting feats like the big bug race or the adventurous treks to the Pindari glacier.  Read on as he reflects on why cricket is every living being's game in India, including a crocodile in "Cricket for the crocodile", or that cricket unexpectedly acts as a gender-bender in “Koki plays the game”, or Uncle Ken’s muddled experiences with tennis and cricket alike, or a young boy’s cycling turns into an unforgettable run-in with nature’s fury in ‘Riding through the Flames”, how two boys fight over an exclusive swim in a pristine forest pool in “The Fight” and many such page-turners. Of course….being an Ruskin Bond aficionado, both of us devoured the book in no time and Abhay couldn’t help comparing himself to Ranji, the protagonist in the cricket stories. The charm of any sport does not only lie in the day’s game or the match, but in the passion, dedication and the joy of losing oneself in it and trust India’s favourite story-teller to vividly bring out the same in his sports stories.  Replete with subtle wit and humour, coming of age tales of friendship and team spirit on and off the field, lively limerick-style poems on cricket, bring on your sporting or cricketing outfit with the Bond from Mussoorie!