Monday, September 12, 2011

Cricket is a serious business - even at 6!

Wills has been cricket obsessed for months - it has overshadowed football/soccer by a long way. We all spend hours playing cricket with him on our side yard which now has two very distinct brown patches at both wickets. As Wills now likes to play with something harder than a tennis ball, and can hit with some velocity it's getting a bit dangerous for house windows and parked cars, not to mention passing traffic on foot, bike or car!

So Wills and one of his buds from the hood have now joined the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC). Sounds grand and it is pretty impressive. Wills now has a kit bag nearly as big as he is:

His cricket bat sticks out of one side pocket, his helmet attaches to the outside and in side are his batting pads etc. They play with real cricket balls so protection is required. They do have training kits and altho' Wills was measured for his, he obviously didn't have it on his first weekend. I didn't realize until after but he wore an England shirt for his first session which given the results of the current England/India test series was maybe a bit tactless -but I don't think anyone noticed. For the Sunday session he wore his India cricket shirt - much more appropriate.

I am sure I have written plenty in previous blogs about IST - Indian Stretchable Time, well at the KIOC, there is little if no elasticity. At precisely the start time a whistle is blown and about 80 boys (all ages from 6 to 18) sit down for a sort of assembly - both notices and words of inspiration. Then they get divided into groups. Watching the older boys in the nets - there is some very serious bowling going on - I wouldn't like to have those balls coming in my direction. Of all we have seen of India so far, I have to say this is the most organized and timely operation by a long way. The coaches seem strict but fair  - there is much less praise than in the US. If you get it, you've earned it. This sits well with Wills who has never liked feel good praise. For a lot of these kids their parents have made a fair investment in sending them to this camp, so they want to see progress is being made. It's definitely more like "competitive" soccer than "recreational" in the U.S. Cricket not being a top sport for a lot of the ex-pats Wills is the only non-indian but no-one seems interested.
Wills and his contemporaries start with warm up exercises. Wills is on the far right in the lighter blue shirt. The kids here are more independent than in the US. No parents in sight - just a few drivers hanging around. Even the youngest 6 year olds have to pad up by themselves and manage perfectly well. So as not to be the only "hover" parents Simon and I vacated the premises and a short walk took us to Commercial Street and my favorite cold coffee with ice-cream!
We don't have any pics of when the real action started but Wills had a great time both days and is looking forward to going back next weekend when he wants Shankar to drive him and we apparently don't need to go at all. Little guy is changing, not so long ago he was too nervous to even go out on the football/soccer pitch - now he strides straight out to meet his group and is chatting and joking away with the other kids in no time, his Indian accent fitting right in.

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