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May 7, 2001

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A bat, a ball, four walls, and a roof

Sheldon Levis

For all those people out there who would love to play cricket but for whatever reason don't, we've got news for you.

Work has started on the first of thirty indoor cricket centres in India.

The programme to build 30 centres throughout India was officially launched in March this year. ABN Entertainment, the firm responsible for the development, is planning to establish the 30 centres in three stages - the first stage involves the building of the first three arenas in Mumbai - at Worli, Andheri and Thane. Work on these centres is already underway.

"So what?" you ask? Well, indoor cricket is the answer to whatever it is that's keeping you from actually playing the sport.

Not enough time to play?: A game of indoor cricket takes just over an hour. It is so short that many players play 2 or 3 games a day/night.

A bat, a ball, four walls, and a roof Not enough opportunities to put bat to ball, or ball to bat? Whenever you have played outdoor, you never get to bowl and have to bat at number eleven? Indoor cricket is a far more inclusive sport than that. Teams consist of 8 players, and each and every player has to bowl 2 overs and each and every player has to bat, with a partner, for 4 overs. No exceptions. Each and every player bowls and bats the exact same number of overs as each and every other player. How's that for inclusion?

You're female, and there is no female cricket team around? No worries, indoor cricket is played by women all over the world. Even the Indoor Cricket World Cup is divided into male and female divisions.

Not good enough to play? Indoor cricket is ideally suited to players of all skills. And indoor cricket centre managers group teams into similarly-skilled grades, so you never get a team of novices playing the indoor equivalent of the Indian National ODI team.

Never played cricket in your life? Again, indoor cricket is suitable for those players who have never set foot on a cricket pitch, and careful grading of teams accommodates novice teams.

Too expensive? Indoor cricket players play in track-suit bottoms and t-shirts. Or shorts and t-shirts. Or skirts and t-shirts -- in the case of female players of course. No need to invest in white clothing and special cricket shoes -- any type of gym shoe is suitable. And there is no playing equipment for players to buy, unless they really want to. Centres provide bats, balls and gloves. And umpires.

Don't play cricket because your friends all want to play together, and they're male and female? Not a problem. One of the very popular competitions in indoor cricket is the "mixed" competition - teams consist of 4 males and 4 females.

Playing cricket in the sun is too hot? Well, it sure can be - and playing in the rain is too wet. Luckily, indoor cricket is played, well indoors. So the sun isn't an issue. In fact, most games are played at night. And rainy weather is no obstacle either. Indoor cricket is played any time of day or night, any time of year.

You think playing is boring compared to watching others play? Well, if you are a truly committed couch-potato you may be harder to prise off your couch, but if any sport can get you up and going, it's indoor cricket. And with the short duration of indoor cricket games, there's still plenty of time to lounge around watching other games on TV.

You don't play because you don't like cricket? *choke* no comment.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Read next:

The Dummies' Guide to Indoor Cricket -- Rules and Regulations