Since I just wrote about cricket books, I thought I’d write about this other link between literature and cricket.
When I was a Bombay schoolkid in the mid-1990s, many of my friends secretly played this game at their desks, while the teacher droned on about something or the other. The game’s called “book cricket,” and it works like this: you have a scorecard in front of you. You randomly open pages in a book and the last digit of the page number determines the batsman’s score. So, if you open page 21, you say a batsman scored 1 run. Pages that end in 5, 7, and 9 were not counted.
How did a batsman get out? If you opened up to a page number ending in 0. We didn’t know this at the time, since Twenty20 had not yet been invented, but this game clearly belonged in the ultra-modern variety where batsmen had to score, or get out. And, believe it or not, it actually worked — batsmen would invariably get out and some close matches were held (I remember on at least one occasion a group of boys gathered around this one guy who had a book-cricket-match that was going down to the wire).
Did anyone else play this game? I know it sounds silly, but so many of my friends and I played it, over and over. Not that recess was any better: since we couldn’t bring a tennis ball to school (and since we had to play in the school’s parking lot), we bunched up an aluminum ball and played full-toss to each other. Good times.
P.S. “Full-toss.” What a strange expression.