Gully Cricket: A remnant of the past?

Is gully cricket losing out on its popularity in this era of computer games?

By Atish Home Chowdhury

As the horizon turns crimson red with diminishing sunlight all around, the loud cheers of the youth and children bring back life to an otherwise clumsy evening. Narrow streets, a few pieces of bricks and lots of sweet-sour arguments and confusion – that’s what has encapsulated the glorious days of gully cricket (Street cricket) for the last several decades – but not anymore.

Over the last few years, hardly anyone comes across the jubilation that we noticed after a gully cricket match victory on streets in our childhood days. It’s hard to swallow the fact that in this era of computer games and smartphones, gully cricket is now heading for a certain doom as it is constantly losing all its sheen and luster.

However, no cricket fan can forget its legacy. Take any big names from India’s top-notch cricketers’ list, starting from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli, all of them began their first innings with gully cricket. It was the passion of Gully cricket that took them to the world of real cricket within the next few years.

These days, video games and online recreation are seriously inflicting their infectious intoxication on the youths. Nonchalantly, most of us will say yes. Video games like candy crush or Game of thrones are certainly making their presence felt. Children and youths find it easier to play in front of their computer screen than playing cricket on gullies or narrow lanes.

The gloomy future of gully cricket!

Believe it or not, what was once considered as a necessary practice to learn the basics of cricket doesn’t matter now. The relentless booming of apartment culture across India is gradually shrinking the space necessary to play gully cricket.

Rather than playing on the streets, kids these days tend to entertain themselves with gaming gadgets such as PS3 or Xbox 360.
Rather than playing on the streets, kids these days tend to entertain themselves with gaming gadgets such as PS3 or Xbox 360

These days, you will find more cabs running on the streets than the boys holding bats. It clearly reflects the dwindling interest of the youths in gully cricket – it’s getting lesser and lesser participants with each passing year. There was a time when gully cricket happened to be the identity of a particular locality. But now everything has taken a drastic U-turn.

Kids these days tend to entertain themselves with gaming gadgets such as PS3 or Xbox 360. They prefer staying indoors with those gaming machines. For them a virtual world is more appealing than the reality.

But it’s neither good for their health nor it helps them socialize with others in the locality. An outdoor game is necessary for the psychological development of every child.

Can gully cricket fight against time?

Former Indian cricketer, Virender Sehwag was recently appointed as the brand ambassador of Sharjah Gully Cricket (Nov 29 – Dec 02, 2016) played earlier this month. Talking about the importance of gully cricket, the dashing opener said, “In a cricket-crazy nation like India, the dream of playing big cricket starts from gully cricket and mine was no different. I never had opportunities to play in a gully cricket tournament like the one being organised at the Sharjah stadium. So those who will be playing in this tournament are lucky because, to get to play in an international stadium in front of thousands of people cheering for you, it is something which I could not experience when I played gully cricket.”

No doubt, like Sehwag most of the Indian cricketers can never forget the nostalgic days of gully cricket when hitting a six by breaking a neighbor’s window glass was far more difficult than hitting down the ground shot at a real match in Lords. Such is the sweet and innocent memory of gully cricket that we can’t wipe away from our mind.

The blooming of real estates and online games is making the future of gully cricket really very bleak. The whimsical world of gully cricket was truly astounding when every child wishes to step into the shoes of legends like Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble or Rahul Dravid.

Gully cricket was a life-transforming recreation and the loveliest memory to cherish forever. Ironically, what we witness now is the same sun, the same narrow lanes – sans any gully cricket!

(Atish Home Chowdhury is a freelance sports writer. He can be contacted via Facebook here.)