Back to the turf, bowled over by memories

Six former State players who came together for an exhibition match organised by the Veteran Women’s Cricket Association in Kerala.

Six former State players who came together for an exhibition match organised by the Veteran Women’s Cricket Association in Kerala.  

Six former State players, now in their 60s, come together for a game of cricket

Fond memories and warm friendships are all they have to show for all the cricket they played at a time when the sport was far from a popular choice for women.

It is the yearning to relive those memories in each other’s company that brought six former State players, now in their 60s, for another game of cricket, decades after they gave up their cricket whites.

The exhibition match between the former State players who played during the 1970s through the 1980s and prominent women personalities from various walks of life organised by the Veteran Women’s Cricket Association in Kerala (VWCAK) on an artificial turf at Kalamassery offered the perfect setting for that reunion.

Among them were siblings Binu Varghese and Latha Varghese who played together for the State. “We did not even get grace marks for playing the game at the university-level, and that is the reason why I do not encourage my children to play the game,” said Ms. Binu, an all-rounder.

Elizabeth Thomas, another all-rounder, backed her former teammate, citing how not a single player from that era got a job on account of the game. “But we enjoyed the game and gained a lot of memories to cherish and friendships across,” said Ms. Thomas, a retired professor. Interestingly, all six of them did their graduation at CMS College, Kottayam, at different points between 1976 and 1980, and were all part of the cricket team which won the inter-collegiate and inter-district championships multiple times.

Manju Raveendran, the only one in the group to associate with cricket administration after her playing days, recollected how she and Ms. Thomas switched from hockey to cricket when the cricket team was formed in college. “A lot of credit should go to our parents for having given us the freedom to play the game and to move around across the country for various competitions,” said Bincy Zachariah, former wicketkeeper.

The former cricketers spoke of how Sunil Gavaskar was the rage back then, as Ms. Thomas added former English cricketer Alan Knott to the list.

Icy Mereena Abraham recollected how they struggled to get proper cricket kits and how they travelled on trains across the country without reservations while sleeping on the floor more than once. During one of those arduous journeys, they ended up spending a night with the Begum of Oudh in a waiting room at the Lucknow railway station while waiting for a connecting train to Bareilly. “And she was not impressed one bit,” chuckled Ms. Thomas.

Sreekala S.R., VWCAK president and former State player, said the exhibition match was a prelude to the two-day tournament for the Shabina Jacob Memorial Trophy that is set to get under way at the Government Polytechnic College ground at Kalamassery. “The association formed last December is the first of its kind anywhere in the country. The State government made three postings for women cricketers for the first time just three days ago,” said Ms. Sreekala.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:24:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/back-to-the-turf-bowled-over-by-memories/article30884149.ece

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