Street cricket chronicles: tip-top, connection, and taking panga in Delhi

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Street cricket chronicles: tip-top, connection, and taking panga in Delhi

We are happy to kickstart a new series: street cricket chronicles.

Here we hope to bring out the cricket culture in different cities at the most amateur levels: whether it is on the streets, in the gullies and driveways and terraces, on beaches, or in the parks.

In this episode we chat with two guests who grew up in Delhi in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Talking points:

Tip-top and connections

Breaking windows, damaging cars

Spinning the Cosco cricket ball

Off-side only rules

Mimicking Mark Waugh, Lara, Aravinda et al.

Bet-matches for pizzas at Nirula’s

Playing (and watching) cricket in the Delhi chill

Visiting the Kotla

Watching Sachin’s 35th hundred


Aftab Khanna (@aftabkhanna)

Prothit Sen

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)


Lead image from here.



14 thoughts on “Street cricket chronicles: tip-top, connection, and taking panga in Delhi”

  1. I am Prothit’s dad. This conversation was indeed very interesting. I remembered that the β€œDragon” did not spare our generation too! The number of tennis balls he confiscated was not funny! πŸ˜…

    When we played in the same colony which Prothit mentioned there were empty plots where the buildings came up later. We also played on those plots, we prepared pitches and nurtured them as best we couldπŸ‘Œ The best part was that fielders were placed across the adjoining roads. There was hardly any traffic!! πŸ˜„πŸ˜„ Our parents encouraged us to go out and play!! No fears!

    To add some spice, we also played French cricket at times!! πŸ˜…

    1. “The best part was that fielders were placed across the adjoining roads. There was hardly any traffic!!”

      I also remember playing on the roads and then some marriage pandaal being setup on the same road. And we respected each other’s space those days πŸ˜€

      Today I saw an old video in which umpire Subhash Modi (from Kenya) gave Hitesh Modi (his son) out lbw in a match vs B’desh. I somehow reminded of this video reading your reply πŸ™‚

      Cheers sir πŸ™‚

  2. Another brilliant episode ft two Delhi boys from contrasting neighborhoods and family connections. In fact, their opinions reg Kotla couldn’t be different. This is what Delhi does to you :). Now who else remembers that the former cricketer Deep Das Gupta’s earliest coach, Suneeta Sharma, was from Delhi.

    Delhi has another cricket ground, Harbaksh Stadium in the Cantonment area, which doesn’t get much (any) coverage. But in 2005 when SL came for a Test (mentioned in the podcast), they visited this ground for practice sessions. My brother (then a teenager) used to go to the stadium, was a net bowler and bowled to their batsmen and dismissed an allrounder with FM as initials.

    Tip-top: I always thought it’s THE standard way to decide who’ll get the first option (I later realized that it could have been the earliest form of the Draft system). Sometimes if the losing captain was dominant, he’d often force the other one to do a best of 3.

    Connection: It was not standard but we used it wherever we didn’t have stumps, which is mostly.

    Umpire’s call: Same as above, there were times when we didn’t have stumps at the batting end as well. In those situations, we used to have umpire’s call as he would visualize the (virtual) hawk eye to gauge the trajectory and then decide.

    Boundary/crease dimensions: These things happen today as well. During a tense chase, there’d often be heated arguments (sometimes physical) as to what exactly is the boundary. And why that wide marker (often a stone) is not correctly measured. There were standard measurements for both off side and left side wides (unfortunately not documented anywhere).

    Gaddha (player): This was mostly reserved for opposition fielders especially fielding near boundary (where the batting team used to sit). So when there was a high catch, we used to shout from behind “gaddha hai gaddha” to distract him. Literally translated as “there’s a hole behind you” πŸ˜€

    Nirula’s: This is the place in the 80s and 90s to go to. It is the earliest places (along with Wimpy’s) where you could get western fast food. I have heard Vivek Razdan and Ajay Jadeja discuss those days on air as well how they used to go for parties after match. And VR, being the captain, used to get the lion’s share.

    Kotla: is crap. But if you have to go there, go for Test matches in the winters. So that after the day’s play, you could go to Old Delhi for a heavy dinner.

    Strike gaaji: We don’t have any substitute for this word up in north. Because if the batsman is older than you, he will keep the strike. You don’t coin a new term for that. πŸ˜€

    Delhi ki public: is at your face, every single time. They will sledge you until you join them and start enjoying it. In CWG 2010, we had sore throats for at least 3 days after the India/Pak hockey match.

    Slip cordon: (I am a KV product as my father was in Defence. So I have done my schooling in 9 schools across 5 cities. So there was a lot of collaboration from kids coming from various cities bringing their experiences :D)

    This cordon thing was one such thing. It was used when we used a wall or gate as stumps. So if there was an edge and the ball hit the wall on the full (on the offside of course), it was counted as out.

    The street cricket chronicles is a fantastic edition, please keep ’em coming πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Vivek,

      Glad that you enjoyed the episode. Your own observations about Delhi are fascinating as well. The crowd one gets at Kotla varies a lot by test cricket and T20 (ODI crowd is closer to the “knowledgeable” test crowd). I guess that’s a global phenomenon but the difference in Kotla is stark. I despise T20 to the extent that I don’t consider it cricket. So, my live T20 experience is just 1-2 IPL games (in the beginning, we were all curious to see what this animal is!). The Kotla was unrecognizable during those games – thank goodness the circus lasted just 3 hours (oh, and someone managed to steal my phone in that time)!

      1. Thanks Prothit; I can feel your pain reg Kotla. I can’t tell where to start :D. And I’ve to admit, I always thought Knowledgeable Chennai Crowd is to appreciate them especially after Chennai 1999.

        I just feel Delhi administration is better suited for other sports like Hockey and Football. and my views about T20 were quite similar especially when it started. And the “hit and giggle” term has stuck with me ever since I heard some Aussie cricketer say this. Now I think it has an identity of its own and should be regarded a different sport, but not cricket πŸ˜‰

  3. Hey Vivek, thanks for the detailed comment man. Loved your own chronicles and the color you brought. You mentioned Wimpys which used to be in CP in Delhi and very close to my mom’s office. It was one of my favorite hang out zones πŸ™‚ On Kotla, I agree with you. I went for an IPL game with a friend in the first season in 2008 (Mumbai were visiting and I had to see SRT play) and people refused to sit. Everyone was standing on their chairs. So I watched the entire 3 hour game standing on my chair :/. And a panga happened in our stand as some folks came without tickets and then pushed legitimate ticket holders from their seats with the cops turning a blind eye. Typical Dilli πŸ™‚

    On stadiums, Delhi also has another one where railways play. The Karni Singh Stadium, possibly the flattest pitch in the world πŸ™‚ There is a story I read which was narrated by Sanjay Bangar. During their partnership at Headingley in 2002, Bangar swished at a ball outside off, Rahul Dravid walked up to up and said, “Boss, this is not Karni Singh”.

    We never used ‘strike gaazi’ but when I played with my cousin, who was an U-16 cricketer, he would hog the first 5 balls and then take a single off the last. There was this one time when my younger cousin refused and ran him out!

    On Tip Top, one thing I forgot to mention on the pod. Not only did you do tip top, you also had to say the words out loud. One guy would say “Tip”, the other would say “Top”. It is hilarious now picturing Delhi boys trying to piroutte like ballet dancers and shouting “Tip”, “Top”

    1. Thanks Aftab, and I’m glad you liked it. TBF, any event in Delhi is not complete until it’s not rounded off with some food. For example, National stadium with Pandara road, Kotla with Old Delhi, JLN stadium with INA/Khan Market, and so on πŸ™‚

      One of my friends once went to watch the WI/SA match in World Cup 2011 and his best observation was how fast his fellow Dale Steyn bowls. Maybe it’s something to do with the seats and viewing angle one gets that you mentioned in the podcast.

      And the stadium is Karnail Singh :), it’s right behind the Railways hospital in CP; and “paata” or not, perhaps Bangar was the best bowler on those pitches ;).

      Haha you are right about Tiptop; it’s the same across different cities where we did the Tiptop.

      Reg running out your teammate, sometimes (as you guys mentioned the umpire used to be from the batting team) he used to declare a couple of them out as he wanted to bat himself. However, this used to happen when the batting team was in a comfortable position especially while chasing πŸ˜€

  4. Couple of things I forgot to mention:
    1. 8-9 year old kids taking guard before batting: Instead we just didn’t know what they did. We thought the umpire tells the batsman to move a bit so that the bowler can see the stumps clearly, and we did that with proper (Elite) honesty. (I remember replying this to one of my tweets but forgot to mention here).

    2. Leg cricket: Confined to school cricket mostly. It was pretty helpful when we didn’t have any cricket gears. The bowler just had to roll the ball (underarm) and the batsman had to hit using his feet (of course). It may sound childish these days, but it was a lot of fun.

  5. Brilliant piece of podcast. I came to know just about it and listened. During my visit to India last year in IPL i witnessed few of these mentioned moments myself πŸ˜€

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