Everybody Wins: Learning from Cricket in Prerana
On 30th May 2014, a cricket pitch was chalked into existence in the erstwhile courtyard of the Khetwadi Municipal School, the Night Care Center of Prerana. 3 stumps were dug into the ground for the batsman’s side, 1 dug in for the bowler’s side around 11 yards away, a massive 6 chalked on to the wall straight opposite. 2 bats, 5 balls, 7 colorful teams and 77 colorful players. It’s a bright sunny day, humid like Bombay, with a hint of cloud. Excitement and electricity in the air.
The stage was set. The kids at the Prerana would now play against each other in a closely pitted contest for victory and bragging rights in the Prerana Summer Camp 2014 Cricket Championships.
The Good Game
A good game can teach you much. Not just for the players but for an intent observer as well.
Rhythm and Identity
The teams were chosen at random. Friends were separated and favouritism denied. Each team was told to choose a captain amongst themselves.
As the games went on, one could observe the disparate teammates gradually beginning to identify with each other. The in-fighting came down to a minimum. Decisions began to be taken organically. Field placements and balling-batting orders gained precision and plan. Cribbing and whining for an opportunity to bat stopped. Now, wickets were being sacrificed so the better player could stay at the pitch.
The best teams learn to think and play as one. Repetitions of their game became a rhythm. A good game establishes a larger identity as a team over one’s individual identity. An example of this phenomenon could be seen among the children.
The Weakest Link is Also the Strongest
There was a rule imposed by Prerana that every team must have girl players and that 1/3rd of the overs bowled should be compulsorily bowled by girls. It was the girls who protested first. “We don’t know how to play,” they said. The boys joined in by calling the rule unfair and unjust.
Well, too bad. The rule stood. The game had to be played around it.
Every team begrudgingly offered a couple of late over’s to the girls. So it came as a surprise when one team began their bowling innings with a first over by a girl. Celebrations in the opposing team lasted only for the duration of the first ball. One run was given, 3 wickets were taken. It was a terrific over, one the other teams were quick to learn from.
Imperfections are the nature of cricket, where you need acknowledge your weaknesses and work around it. Hiding your vulnerabilities can win the battle. It will lose you the war.
A Sense of Justice
The umpires are responsible for maintaining the tenor and temper of the game. They don’t always have to make the ‘right’ decision. Rather they have to make ‘fair’ one. It is a nuanced aspect that even the rule of law lacks.
Umpires for the Prerana matches were chosen by the children from amongst themselves. They were role models and upheld the values of the game. They were considerate and patient. They were firm in their decisions. They were quick to refer to each other in case of doubt. They showed authority over the game and never their ego or biases. They convinced the most unwilling to accept their decisions with grace.
A Game of Numbers
The scores for the Prerana match were kept by a group of five children. There was a team of two managing the public display scoreboard, painstakingly updating all the numbers after each ball, on-the-go and incessant. Another child was keeping the score independently to match the tally. Two more were tracking individual scores. The 5 member ‘Numbers Team’ performed admirably and in tandem. Between the five of them and the over 200 balls bowled, there was not a single statistic that went awry.
The Show Must Go On
The co-ordination and all major decisions pertaining to the cricket championships were handed over to the children. There were a couple of adult supervisors about but it would only be fair to say that it was the kids that ran the show.
The games began sharp at 11.40am. There was a lunch break at high noon. The championship wrapped up at 5.45 sharp with sunlight to spare. As an organized event it was impeccable from start to finish.
The cheering was fantastic. There was never a dull moment.
So, who won?
In a good game, everybody wins. Congratulations to everyone.