Narcissistic and full of piss. That is what you normally associate cricketers with, even amateur or budding ones in this cricket-mad nation. But self-flagellation as a means to a sporting end? Well, the Bishop Cotton School’s boys seem to have just patented a new mantra or motivation. Of course, it was something to be seen to be believed.
An inter-school cricket match is in progress, and the batting team which is under pressure scores a rare boundary. This brings cheer in the dressing room of the batting team, and even as those on the benches indulge in high-fives and fist pumping, the fielding side enacts a different ritual: Excluding the bowler, the remaining ten of them lower themselves onto the turf and do a series of five push-ups. This they repeat each time they concede a boundary. Now, you must be wondering why the main culprit, the bowler, has been reprieved! Not really, for the best has been reserved for the last. For, at the end of the innings the poor fellow has to do it all cumulatively, five push-ups into the number of boundaries he has conceded.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
Bishop Cotton comfortably won Wednesday’s game in the Boost Cup U-16 inter-school cricket tournament at the YMCA Grounds. Not that the result was ever in doubt. To the contrary, the whole push-up regimen they went through was because of the remorse they were feeling for having to play against teams much below their capability. They had in fact been relegated from the elite group of 16 city schools who would automatically qualify for the tournament’s second phase.
As this year’s Cottonian Shield winners and last year’s BTR Shield champions, the Bishop Cotton Boys High School cricket team has been in the elite stage of the Boost Cup (the tournament is played in two stages) for so many years. Last year, due to one freak defeat owing to a walk over – the match date clashed with their exams – they were relegated to the first round of the tournament. Hence, this year the team had to start their quest for the title from scratch, by playing against a series of teams which they believe are well below them.
Anil Dutt, the head of the sports department of the school believes that the team does not deserve to be playing in the first round. “Since the inception of the two stages of this tournament conducted by KSCA, our school has always been in the elite stage. But due to last year’s unfortunate forfeiture, we were relegated from the elite stage. I wanted them to play in a disciplined manner and keep up their morale when playing against lower-rung sides. I want them to believe that they are amongst the top four teams of the tournament. So, I told them that they must punish themselves every time the opposition scored a boundary,” he explained. But even he didn’t believe his boys would take his word literally.
MAKING SHORT WORK
On Wednesday morning, Anil ‘sir’ wished his team luck at the YMCA grounds before their match against BBUL Jain Vidyalaya and headed back to school. Samarth, the team captain, decided to enforce a penalty for his entire team including himself whenever their opponents scored a boundary. According to Samarth, “I told the boys that for the entire first round of this tournament, for every boundary scored by the opponents, irrespective of whose mistake it was, the entire team had to instantly perform five push-ups on the field. The bowler had to perform the push-ups after the over was completed or after match ended.”
In the event, they shot out the opposition for just 30 runs, a good ten runs more than they had intended to. But there was more to come. “We believed that we are too good for these teams. So we reversed our batting order. The tailenders went out as openers,” Samarth said. Some hubris that?
No matter, for the result said it all. The Cottonians went on to register a nine-wicket victory. Now, shouldn’t our, at times, over-glorified Men in Blue take a cue from these school boys?