Looking for recreational cricket? Netz Cricket at Citi Centre brings the thrill of the sport indoors

Netz Cricket, an indoor cricket facility at Citi Centre, can be summed up in a line — a personal health decision that grew into a business enterprise. One day, sitting at the sprawling terrace of the shopping mall, Fayaz Ahmed, his cousin Nawaz and their friend Adithya Venkataswami began to talk about catching up on cricket. All three voted for installing a cricket bowling machine on the unused space and playing the game primarily for fitness. From one bowling robot for themselves, the nebulous idea has crystalized into a six BOLA machines under a high arching roof, a scatter of hanging lights and six pitches with nets — in short, the casual chat has lead to a 7,500 sq.ft. indoor cricket facility that is open for all, from 10 a.m to 10.30 p.m., all days of the week.

“Nawaz initiated the idea and we were convinced it will work. A few others we shared it with are now on board,” says Fayaz Ahmed, director of ETA STAR. The initiative is primarily targeted at visitors to the mall, employees of corporate establishments and others looking for recreational cricket. Given the versatility of the bowling machines, cricketers can be expected to have good batting practice. Each of the six lanes — which together account for around 5,000 sq.ft., falls short of the length required for a bowler to run up to the wicket and try his arm.

“The nets are retractable and they can be moved to create sufficient space for matches. When this happens, bowlers can bowl with a short run-up,” says Adithya, CEO of Netz Cricket. In fact, a corporate tournament with 48 teams is round the corner.

Commercial indoor cricket facilities are not a novelty. To give just two examples, there is C-Cube at Guindy and the Sports Village at Mayajaal with a provision for cricket under a roof. The element of freshness lies in the fact that Netz Cricket promotes indoor cricket in a shopping mall within the city, on a fairly big scale.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that a major chunk of its business will come from shoppers. They can face the versatile BOLA machines — capable of fast and spin bowling with their various variations — at Rs. 5 a ball. A player has to, however, play for a minimum of two overs. While a tennis ball is encouraged, players can choose to face dimpled or a cricket ball wearing the caboodle of protective gear. Among efforts at forging long-term partnerships are offers of quarterly, half-yearly and annual memberships and programmes for corporate groups.

A café, named Dugout, and shower rooms have been installed to enhance the facility’s appeal.

(Actor Karthi will inaugurate the facility today. And how! He’ll captain a team in a six to a side match.)