Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Backyard Heroes

At 6 am, as the morning joggers throng Palavakkam beach on East Coast Road, the members of the Palavakkam Cricket Club (PCC) also gather to begin their morning practice. Captains Gnanamurthy and Karthik instruct the boys to take positions, the senior most member of the team, Guna, helps the beginners with the nuances of the game. The 55-member club is quite famous in ECR for their feats in gully cricket (backyard cricket). The team has won many tournaments against the prominent teams across the city. In a discussion with DC, the team opens up about their love for the cricket and the future of gully cricket.

One of the founding members of PCC, Sasi tells us about the history of PCC, “We formed PCC in 2005. We would all play cricket on the beach and with time the number who came to the beach kept growing. PCC is comprised of three teams, each of which was formed based on age,” he says. The oldest member of the team, Guna, who is a Physical Training teacher at a local school, is proud of the boys. “I'm proud of the sportsmanship these boys bring to the game. It can only happen when there is a love for the game. There is absolutely no politics. Everybody is willing to learn and improve their skills. It is their hard work and dedication that is the reason behind our club's success,” he proudly states.

Membership to PCC is open to all ECR residents, but conditions apply! “Every member should strictly adhere to the rules and regulations,” Sasi states, adding, “We practice in the morning every day. We go across the State to play in various tournaments and we want our players in their best form. So whoever joins the team should be open to learn and work hard,” says Sasi.

Captain Gnanamurthy’s obsession for the game, however, defies logic, “We once had to play in a tournament and unfortunately I was not granted leave at work. So I decided to quit my job,” he says to this stunned reporter. “That is just an example of the passion we all share for the game,” adds Sasi.

Gully cricket might be popular in the city, but the players of PCC reckon that it still hasn’t got the recognition that it deserves. “We really wish that there could be many more tournaments and it would be great if the government and corporate organizations do their bit to popularise gully cricket. Even the pitch that we play was laid by us. There aren't too many people who come forward to help us,” says Sasi.

In a country, where cricket is considered a religion, we hope that the boys' dream to popularise the street form of the game comes true.

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