Life & Style

This Chennai place lets you play neon cricket

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Neon makes everything better. Well at least cricket, as we discover during a three-over match at the first neon cricket venue in town

The lights go off and I am engulfed in a soft blue glow, my green vest dazzling brightly in the darkness. No, I’ve not dressed up for an EDM concert or a rave party. Instead, I am standing at Rush Madras, a sporting venue in RA Puram, to play neon cricket. The concept seems simple enough — cricket in the dark with the use of glowing elements.

Launched last month, neon cricket was conceptualised by 22Yards, a cricket-based application, that connects players with academies, coaches and facilities. The idea struck Adithya Ravi, the founder, and his team during a radio interview when they were discussing the Neon Run Marathon that takes place in India. A little research later, they decided to apply the concept to the sport of cricket as well, procuring fluorescent lights, colourful bibs and cricket bats; the last coated with neon paint to make it shine.

At the indoor sports arena, a game of badminton is reaching its climax, and once the athletes troop off the court, I spot the nets being rolled up quickly while cricket equipment is laid out. With a flick of the light switch, the multi-utility court, which boasts basketball, football and tennis infrastructure, transforms into a makeshift cricket field highlighted with glowing stumps, bats and balls. As I step onto the court, it does not take long to adjust to the darkness.

Although the game allows for a maximum of 12 players, I have come with a measly team of five friends. While we divide ourselves into teams, we jostle for the green and orange training bibs that sit invitingly on the side stands.

This Chennai place lets you play neon cricket

In the rule book

The standard rules are explained to us — any shot that hits the far end of the wall is a boundary that scores six runs while the rest of the match must be played by taking runs. We opt for a quick three-over match, positioning ourselves between the wickets, and I now realise that I have been too enamoured by the quirky settings, forgetting that my childhood nickname was ‘butter fingers’. Standing near the stumps, with a glowing bat in hand, I can only spot a neon ball hurtling towards me while my friends have been reduced to headless, legless entities. Surprisingly, the phosphorescent speck helps me focus, marginally improving my hand-eye coordination.

Abilash Sk, head of operations, 22Yards, explains, “Cricket is often marked by poor lighting; in the darkness, it is easier to connect the bat with the ball. The idea is to eliminate all sources of light, which is why neon cricket only takes place after 6 pm.”

The timing also works well for the organisation, which is popular with corporates, who come in after work from 9 pm to 11 pm on weekdays. Hitting a few well-aimed shots, it is the neon that bowls us away, helping us forget the seriousness of the game.

As the lights are turned back on, we stand cloaked in orange and green; but the allure of the neon colours has not diminished and we quickly request a photo shoot in the darkness.

As the next set of players roll in, Sachin B, a cricket player for the Tamil Nadu 4th Division league, attests, “The game here is only played over a shorter pitch of 14 yards, which means that the ball comes more quickly on to the bat. For professional players, this helps to improve the batting strokes and reflexes.” Thirteen-year-old Raaghul B pipes up, “While playing cricket outdoors in the evening, we have to resort to artificial lighting which causes glare and shadows. Neon cricket removes that aspect and allows someone new to adapt to the sport easily.”

The team at 22Yards has big plans for the coming year, hoping to shift to more venues across the city, enabled by the flexible equipment that the game requires. Abilash elaborates, “We are organising a tournament in December which will feature over 100 teams from Chennai. This will be a six-over match played in a league-cum-knockout format and will be held through the night.”

Rush Madras allows a maximum of 12 players for neon cricket, priced at ₹2,500 per hour on weekdays and ₹3,000 per hour on weekends. For bookings, contact 22Yards at 9789832541.

In this column, we hunt for adrenaline-filled activities in and around Chennai

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 5:27:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/this-chennai-place-lets-you-play-neon-cricket/article30097132.ece

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