My Lords Ground
When I saw on Twitter a historic photo of children playing on the streets in London in the 1930s, with their wicket drawn on a lamppost, I remembered my childhood ‘Lords Cricket Ground’ which was near to my house in Trivandrum. Our vacations were filled with the cricket from morning till dusk. Initially, we had only three pieces cut from the hard part of the coconut leaf as the stumps. Two twigs cut from a nearby tree would be our bails. Most often the ball would be lost in the thick grass in the boundary region and I would be the first to spot it. Our friends pooled money to buy cork balls and I prided myself as a good medium pace bowler and a good fielder dreaming of playing one day for the Ranji trophy team. Alas, it did not happen. I tried unsuccessfully five times to get into the college team till the end of graduation in 1990!
At school, we had one main big ground which was also used for athletics and football and two smaller grounds which were occupied by cricket fans like me in the recess period. Most often the three stumps were drawn on the wall using colour chalk and this caused disputes over bad umpiring decisions.
Incidentally, KN Ananthapadmanabhan who went on to play for the Indian Cricket ‘A’ Team was my immediate senior in school and also in pre-university. Yet, no one expected him to scale such heights which were considered difficult in those times for players especially from Kerala. I remember Hilal also Ananthapadmanabhan’s classmate who was a true allrounder – he set the rules of the game, brought stumps, ball and bat from home. In the unfortunate event of him getting out duck in the first ball, he would pack up everything and threaten to go unless we agree to give him another chance to bat! Now employed in a major market research agency in London, when we met again, I recounted this incident and we broke into laughter!