How about some old-fashioned cricket?

The sight of Sachin Tendulkar essaying an impeccable straight drive or a Rahul Dravid dropping a short pitched delivery dead at his feet by getting behind the line or a Sreesanth firing in a yorker that sends a stump cartwheeling or an Anil Kumble flipper trapping a batsman plump in front has sparked many a fantasy.
It is not just schoolboys, uninitiated in the art of daydreaming, that we are talking about here. I have known many grown-ups indulge in such wistful pre-occupation. And quite a few of them have rolled back the years to experience the joys of playing weekend cricket, less intense but just as earnest and competitive as in the flush of their youth.
To be sure, there is an impish delight in the manner in which these folk rediscover their whites and shoes at the start of a new season of weekend cricket. And an almost boyish enthusiasm comes in evidence as they try and get into shape, jogging a few laps around the housing society or in the nearest park and stretching the ageing limbs.
Yet, it can be quite stressful when you mark a longish run-up but soon realise you can no longer propel the cricket ball down 20 yards as quickly or with as much guile as you did in school and college. Or, for that matter, it can be a trifle distressing to hit the cricket ball straight to fielders rather than find the gaps.
Come to think of it, when you appear to only escort the ball to the boundary despite the spirit willing the body to move faster, it can be quite embarrassing. And if you have forgotten the rigours of spending time under the sun, chasing the red cricket ball or running hard between the wickets or sending down a few overs of gentle medium pace, the day after a hard, enjoyable game can be quite painful.
Never mind all that. A day out in the park with friends, away from the humdrum of work and business can help you unwind. Come to think of it, the bonding and camaraderie that you share with your team-mates on the cricket field – some of whom you would not normally meet at work – can sometimes go on to make the workplace a happy place.
There are many firms across the country that support staff in organising cricket teams and even encourage the sides to play inter-office tournaments. Yet, just in case your workplace does not have the staff strength to string together a decent cricket side, you can combine with some neighbouring units to form a squad to play some weekend cricket.
There are a number of professionals who will tell you which cricket grounds are free and also go to the extent of organising umpires, a scorer, new cricket balls and some water for your team. They even help you in finding a team to play against yours so that all you have to do is organise your own squad to be present at the ground in time, carry a kit and some refreshments.
The beauty of such cricket is that you get to play against a variety of opposition, letting you experience pain and pleasure in balance. There is no great need to maintain averages or other sundry forms of statistics nor is there a fervent desire to rush to the local newspaper office with copies of the score sheet and a passport-sized photograph on scoring a half-century or on capturing five wickets.
So, how about some good old-fashioned cricket over the coming weekends, with families in tow so that they can enjoy a good day out, too? So what if the straight drive cannot be as perfectly executed as a Tendulkar does or a yorker can’t be conjured at will to explode the wicket as if a little firecracker was set off under the stumps?