Watching the Pakistan team bat against Australia this morning in the 1st test match somehow made me wish if every Pakistani batsman could get 2 chances to bat in each innings. The thought, although impractical, opened the doors to many of my own memories from the childhood days when I used to play tape ball or ‘kirmich’ ball (as we used to call it) cricket quite regularly. That would surely have been a format where if one team was a player short, one batsman from that team could’ve been allowed to bat twice. This, and so much more is so far from the real world of cricket but still, even today, many good hard ball cricketers give a lot of credit for their success to this type of cricket.
In this piece, I am sharing 22 of the most interesting memories of ‘kirmich’ ball cricket that I have. Some of these are not only hilarious but also bizarre to a certain extent when compared with the actual rules of the game. Whichever way you look at it, it was and still is the golden period of many Pakistanis’ and specially Karachiite’s lives.
For me, time when we played ‘Kirmich’ ball cricket was the time:
- When it was considered a taboo for someone to open the batting and bowl the first over.
- When the most coveted fielding position was to keep wickets.
- When Keeping wickets would be called ‘Keepering.’
- When the last batsman could bat alone without a partner on the other end.
- When the last batsman needed to run 2 in order to be counted as a single.
- When walls were used for ‘Deewaar-Catch’ with the most amazing stipulation of using only one hand.
- When a one hand catch would also be considered legitimate if it was caught on a single bounce aka ‘One-Tip Out’.
- When ‘Heads or Tails’ was first ‘Chaand ya Chaap’ and then ‘Quaid-e-Azam ya Masjid’.
- When a Nitto Tape was the most desirable winning prize for the whole team.
- When there was a whole science associated with putting tape onto a ball.
- When it wasn’t necessary to have enough players to form two teams. ‘Numbering’ would then be the format of the game.
- When batting numbers would be decided by one person guessing the number of fingers another person would have opened behind his back over his shoulder.
- When stumps would be the distance between two pebbles with a hypothetical height.
- When umpires would be from the batting side and the umpire would be eager to get a bat himself.
- When regulations would be stricter than the ICC when it came to the bending of the arm for a bowler.
- When a batsman had the right to give a ‘Batta Call’ to the umpire when he could measure the arm bend of the bowler exceeding the allowed limit through his bare eyes.
- When the bowlers could object on the batsman covering all the stumps. ‘Wicket chor k khelo, bhai!’
- When due the lack of fielders or unsuitable terrain, play could be limited to offside or onside only.
- When batsmen didn’t need to run when the ball hit the wall behind the wicket keeper as that would automatically add a single or double to the scorecard.
- When ‘Ghar mein jana’ could either deduct runs or result in the fall of a wicket.
- When a player could be substituted by another permanently on need basis.
- When the ball hitting the body of the batsman was as good as hitting the stumps (One Body Out).
Some of the above are not only memories but rules that still prevail in these times. Tape ball cricket is a sport and passion in its own right. For all those guys out there playing Tape Ball cricket regularly, keep rocking and keep this game alive.
Hammad A. Mateen