In downtown, boys take to streets— for cricket

IRFAN MEHRAJ

Srinagar: While the summer capital city wore a deserted look due to a shutdown called by pro-freedom groups to mark India’s 66th Republic Day, young boys were busy displaying their cricketing skills in lanes and by-lanes in the city interiors.
For a day, the lanes and by lanes had become virtual playgrounds for a posse of young boys, who were busy playing cricket.
Absence of traffic and a supportive weather presented a perfect opportunity to these cricket enthusiasts.
At one such a lane inside the volatile downtown, scores of young boys were fielded in irregular positions around a batsman as he prepared himself to anchor an otherwise tumbling innings.
“It is the best time to play cricket. The deserted streets act as a perfect pitch and an extended playing space,” Zameer, a boy from Nowhatta told Kashmir Reader.
Most of the streets in downtown areas like Rainawari, Khanyar, Saida Kadal, Safa Kadal have been turned into cricketing fields.
“As playgrounds are already filled, we found it best to play on the streets because there is no traffic today,” Zahid from Khanyar told Kashmir Reader.
In the heavily manned lanes of downtown, where a contingency of armed personal are stationed, the situation had no bearing on the asking rate the boys were skilfully chasing.
“On a normal day, I would be poring over my books. But today I am really enjoying this street cricket,” said Uzair, an eighth standard boy.
At each end of the Safa Kadal Bridge in downtown, there is a cluster of boys appealing, shouting and cheering as the ball is hit into the air. For the time being, the little ones are on the back foot as they fear the bullying teenagers.
“We don’t like to play with boys older than us. They bully us every time. That’s why we keep to ourselves,” Danish, a nine year old boy from Safa Kadal told Kashmir Reader.
In the playground adjacent to Malkha (City’s largest graveyard), known as Saraf Waer (Snake pit) the entire playfield was filled with boys of all ages as nearly fifteen cricket pitches dot the ground (actually meant to play football), some crisscrossing each other.
“Everybody is playing cricket today. It is a nice break from the routine. The sun is also shining. It is just a perfect day for cricket,” Faizan, a student from Rainawari told Kashmir Reader.