Played for fun, the Sprite Gully Cricket Champs tournament evokes good response from the locals
“Route clear pannu…, areavula neethaan hero kannu!” a voice cries in full throat, beckoning young cricketers to take up the challenge of scoring the maximum runs in six balls to win a purse of Rs.30,000.
The craze for cricket in this country is such that everyone tries to customise the game to their convenience. Under conventional cricket, the maximum a batsman can score in a six-ball over is 36 runs. But imagine a batsman scoring as many as 25 runs with a single shot! That is Sprite Gully Cricket Champs Season V for you.
If the batsman cleanly strikes the target board hung on the side walls of the cage (which carries different numbers), he scores that many runs for his team.
Organised by Coca Cola at the Railway grounds, the two-day tournament saw overwhelming response from the local cricketers. It's a contest with six players a side, in which each batsman gets one chance to face the ball from the rival bowler and score the maximum. Each innings ends in an over and the next team takes guard to outscore.
The ball flies everywhere, as every batsman tries to contribute to his team's victory. The limit of six balls also makes the tournament more competitive as the contestants strive to prove their mettle.
Super league qualifier
“We have never played any formal cricket. Winning the tournament was a surprise,” says P. Raman, a member of Silent Killers, which emerged victorious at the end of the city finals. They also qualified to represent the city in the Super League-Zonal knock-out tournament to be held at Hyderabad. The winners of the super league will pocket a whopping Rs.5,00,000 as prize money.
“It was fun playing cricket here,” says Raman. “We used to play street cricket with rubber balls. This is the first time we are playing with hard tennis balls. Luck also played a big part in our victory. I accidentally hit the 25-run target board, which turned the table in our favour. Raman's team gathered 43 runs, the highest in Madurai city finals.
Till then, 29 was the highest score registered, by two teams, AKP Boys and Thunder Boys. The runner-up prize money of Rs.20,000 was bagged by AKP Boys as they defeated Thunder Boys by a slender margin of one run in the tie-breaker.
The tournament is conducted in 112 cities across four zones. It reached Madurai after travelling to Bangalore, Mysore, Tumkur, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur and Coimbatore.
Keywords: Gully Cricket