Street Cricket Culture in Karachi

Front (or back) yard cricket (depending upon which yard of your house is bigger), as opposed to street (or galli) cricket is the only ‘competitive’ form of cricket that I have ever participated in. It is much less cut throat then galli cricket, where things can often get quite heated. Rules aren’t nearly as liberal as in this video, and inter muhalla rivalries can get very serious. Unlikely also, that you’ll see any of feminine participation you see in this video, in real street cricket. As I was watching the Bangladesh-South Africa Super Eight contest in the World Cup today (which, surprise, surprise, Bangladesh have won), I simultaneously put up this video of a family game from last weekend on You Tube. The fact that I edited parts of the video during another KESC loading shedding session has resulted in some unintentional though seriously comical spelling typos in the video, but it made me think about the general topic of Karachi and street cricket culture here.

Chokidars at my tenants place put up extra lights during Ramadan nights to play what I think our five-players-and-overs-per side contests in our street, there’s another league that regularly takes place in the lane preceding ours. Further out, matches are regularly played across the street on KESC Clifton Complain Centre. There’s a huge empty plot there, but the players prefer to play on road, probably because the plot surface is a bit rough and bumpy, the roads there, marginally less so.

At different times of the year, young kids can be seen playing on roads all over the city, and indeed the country. As a cricket lover, while this sort of passion for the game does hearten me, I’ve had very different feelings about this since I’ve started driving. Driving is not easy in this city as it is with the kind of roads (and drivers) we have, and it certainly complicates matters further when half of the road is occupied by exuberant youth honing (or as some would say spoiling) their cricket skills.

I know much of these people don’t have an alternative, public sports grounds are in scarcity through out the country, and Karachi as such is no exception, and most people’s homes are often not big enough to entertain the idea of back or front yard cricket, but what I’ve also noticed is that some galli cricket players chose to play on roads even when grounds are available.

Take for instance, our muhalla. Their is a special people’s park just ahead of IVSAA on Khayaban-e-Saadi which I’m told is also the home of a local cricket club, but I’ve hardly ever seen many actual games being played there. Perhaps I was misinformed about its status as a club ground, but I’ve seen with my own eyes dozens of young boys playing on the road right besides the open ground in Bath Island as you go uphill from St. Michael’s School. This perplexes me and the only logical explanation I can think of is that the players have grown so used to playing on concrete that they don’t feel as comfortable playing on soft rubble of open grounds, let alone grass outfields (which we don’t have enough of anyway). But it’s not like they’re expected to dive and field, so I’m not sure if that would or should make much of a difference either. Perhaps people just enjoy the thrill and adrenaline rush of being a dare devil.

Because it goes without saying that the majority of these people certainly put their lives under significant risk by playing on busy streets, and sometimes even main roads. And then there’s also the danger they in turn put parked cars into. It’s a precarious situation over all. Perhaps one of the commentators here who has actually had the experience of playing galli cricket can enlighten us. Is my muhalla a one off exception, or is playing on roads an actual preference? And whilst we’re at the subject, you can go ahead and share with everyone your own muhalla or family’s unique cricket rules, some of which, you’ll get a glimpse of in the video.

22 Comments so far

  1. ash (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 3:59 am

    jeeyaay bangla’s ….i hope they make the finals ..east pakistan zindabad!

  2. rai (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 6:38 am

    lol this was the background music and the commentary

  3. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 7:09 am

    Very good movie followed again by a lengthy post (have you got any influence of Ramla’s comments? :-). The movie comments were good but they were disappearing very fast or am I a slow reader ?? Very top post. You are one of my favorite author here.

  4. DB9 (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 8:05 am

    We should have sent them to the world cup instead of the team.

  5. Faraz (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 8:32 am

    Nice strokes Zainub (I am assuming that’s you in the vid). But that’s not street cricket!

    Here’s a nice recent post from ATP on street cricket.

  6. Mona (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 9:08 am

    I am pretty Anti-Bangladesh – well it is NO longer East Pakistan. Having come across Bengalis here in Australia – they tend to compete heaps with Pakis and can’t see you succeed and will try and take advantage of you as much as they can. Some of em pretty cold towards Pakistanis – because of the history I guess… so yeah I wouldn’t support them one bit =/ Mind you these Bengalis don’t show their hatred that much – but there’s not much to be expected!

  7. Salman A. (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 9:42 am

    dear mona ji,
    shame on you and your sick mentality. after all, the people of Bangladesh are our muslim brothers and sisters. think before you speak anything stupid.

    as a sport fan, i think Bangladesh’s performance was absolutely phenomenal and they deserved each bit of this great victory.

  8. ash (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 10:10 am

    mona sounds like youve had bad experiances but you cant make broad generalizations about people because its unfair. The team did well, its another muslim country, one we share a lot with…for most people thats enought to wish them well.

  9. Raja Islam (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

    If you live in flat then its Roof top cricket.Its difficult then any type of cricket.

  10. Zainub (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

    That’s not me in the video, its my sister. I’m making the video, I’m behind the camera.

  11. MB (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

    Pakistan + Bangladesh = Pangladistan

    I am happy that they won not because of they being ours previously but for cricket’s sake.

    Its good to have competitive teams. The more competitive teams the more interest.

    Jiyeee cricket !!!!!

  12. fullstop (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

    awesome video! I used to play roof-top cricket with my brother back in the days when I was karachi. Another variation that is popular in house cricket is “One-tip out” i.e. you can “catch out” the batsmen if you get the ball after it has bounced once.

  13. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

    Another good post zainab but I would second faraz that it’s not street cricket.

    Remembering Tikanjoo from Pakistaniat is one of my favorite post about Pakistani cricket,specially about street cricket because every contributer of the post[the author and then commentators] were part of street cricket in past/present and they brought good old memories and smile on many faces.

  14. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

    Zainab, since many of us know that you maintain a seprate cricket blog and also writes for cricket section BBC and cricinfo[?], Would you like to share what made you so much cricket fanatic? I mean being a lady and cricket[sports] lover is something unusual. Normally our ladies like cricket for crickets only and pay no attention on game at all.

  15. MB (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

    Mustansar Hussain Tarar has written an excellent article , part of which covers Pakistani cricket.

    Here is the full artile

    But i am pasting the cricket part only.

    During the benevolent reign of Ziaul Haq, the Pakistani contingent after “competing” in the Olympics returned empty-handed, without winning even a bronze to console the grieving nation. They were invited for a presidential dinner during which Ziaul Haq very kindly enquired from each team member as to what was the main cause of their total failure.

    The hockey wallas complained about the hockey sticks which had somehow shrunk due to the weather conditions. The athletes said that the other competing athletes were so ill-mannered that they just kept running while they were catching their breath and they did not wait for them to catch up. Besides, their meters were longer than Pakistani meters, etc., and then the President asked the manager of swimming contingent as to why they had not won any event.

    He replied grudgingly, “Mr President, you are talking about winning a swimming event, you should thank God that all of us are back alive and none of us was drowned there.”

    Therefore, we should also thank Almighty that the cricket team has come back alive, look what happened to Woolmer.

    But seriously, who are these nuts who are burning effigies of the players and stoning their houses and abusing them left, right and centre, what are their credentials as a nation? One of the most corrupt nations in the world – is that the credential? What have they achieved on the world level except notoriety and religious bigotries, and they expect their team to win the World Cup?

    They have never burned a single effigy of a person who was responsible for the loss of half of their country, nor of those rolling stone lotas who gather a lot of moss while rolling from one party to the other without any shame. No sir, they do not indulge in such dignified reactions, instead they hurl stones at the helpless players who were definitely, but temporarily, inefficient to say the most.

  16. Mona (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

    Dear Salam Jee,
    Shame on you for not going beyond Karachi and getting to know any bengalis! (Yes I am assuming you’ve not met any!) True they are muslims – but the hatred they have for Pakistanis, which is pretty OBVIOUS when you encounter them in a foreign country – I don’t think too highly of them!!! So you better go beyond Karachi and meet up with some bengalis and find out for yourself!

  17. Salman A. (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

    Mona, Mona, you didnt listen to what I said earlier, ‘think before you say ………..’ you dont have to go abraod to create a soft corner for your muslim brothers and sisters living anywhere in the world. samjhi?

    i understand how it feels when you experience any muslim/pakistan-bashing aborad especially in a western country, but how to tackle it is a different debate. 2 wrongs do not make a right so you have be sensible and act wisely in those situations. you know what i am talking about.

    and your suggestion to go beyond Karachi makes me laugh- stop making such assumptions :)))))


  18. DB9 (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

    @ Mona “Some of em pretty cold towards Pakistanis” – Well who is not? You think other nations love us? We need to build ourselves. I live in NY where recently a Bengali cab driver returned diamonds worth thousands of dollars to the owner who forgot it in the cab, it was in the news next day and people praised him and he created a good image for his country. Then we have the example of Mr. Muhammad Yonus you won the Nobel Prize on the concept of micro loans.

    And for us it is becoming more and more difficult to pitch Pakistan when they see Mullahs burning ‘Free Willy’ & ‘Home Alone’ tapes & crazy burqa women kidnapping people in the capital city.

    I am glad that a Muslim team won. We live in times when we NEED to build bridges not burn them. Go Bangladesh.

  19. Salman A. (unregistered) on April 8th, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    DB9, very well said my friend. and based upon my experince, another quality of our Bangladeshis brohters is that they build mosques or ‘musallahs’ in every neighborhood where they are few in numbers without beaking any laws of that city or town. to me thats a great social service especially if you are living in a non-muslim country..

  20. wasiq (unregistered) on April 9th, 2007 @ 2:57 am

    Last christmas i gave you my heart…
    But the very next day
    You gave it away…..

  21. Mona (unregistered) on April 9th, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    Fine! I may be over generalising – but nonetheless, experiences make us more cautious, don’t they!

  22. Nabeel (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

    Just as a rebuttal to Miss Mona’s allegations,I have met many bangladeshis out of pakistan (in the middle east) and they have never,ever shown any hatred towards me or pakistan.

    please don’t generalize.

    anyone having bad experiences with corrupt pakistanis abroad might have generalized and said that all pakistanis are corrupt,materialistic,etc….but is that true?

    ever thought of the other perspective?

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