Street cricket chronicles: TN – the land of idea batting, sodukku ball, and face bowling

81 All Out  > Conversation, Listen >  Street cricket chronicles: TN – the land of idea batting, sodukku ball, and face bowling

Street cricket chronicles moves to Tamil Nadu and we were delighted to be joined by Tamil Nadu’s promising wicketkeeper batsman Narayan Jagadeesan to talk about playing amateur cricket in his formative years in Coimbatore and the influence of tennis ball cricket on some of the TN legends. We also bring plenty of color from the street cricket culture in Chennai.

Jagadeesan opens up about his journey from Coimbatore to the Tamil Nadu Ranji side, playing alongside TN legends, being part of the CSK squad, and about working with Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni.

Talking points:

The hierarchy of balls: Rubber, Cork, Rubber-Cork, Tennis – Mercury > Cosco, Leather

First world problem of poor outfield in Coimbatore vs no field in Chennai

The legend who may or may not have taught L Balaji on how to grip a cricket ball

Boost-Bournvita bat, maavu bat, oil bat, oil sheet bat, modus operandi of seasoning the bats

Different dynamics of sodukku ball in Tennis ball vs Cricket ball

Transitioning from Tennis ball to professional cricket – influence of bat flow and the great horizontal swing

Common grounds of conflict – right arm over, edged but wide, constantly changing popping crease, line belongs to the umpire

Local cricket parlance – Idea batting/bowling, tough-a-podu, OC gajee, adeetail, maanga, bat-pitch, kaatu suthal

Characters of the game – Idea Mani, Veera Afridi, Switch-grip batsman

Imitating Dhoni-Gilchrist-Haddin, bowling like Mohammad Zahid, copying Dravid’s classical leave and Azhar’s flicks

International cricketers best suited for Chennai street cricket

Substantial rise in representation of district players in Tamil Nadu

Being part of TN team and CSK squad

Contrasting experience of working with Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni


Narayan Jagadeesan

Ashoka Rao (@Abvan)

Mahesh Sethuraman (@cornerd)


Lead image from here


Ashwin talking about his street cricket experiences (From 20.57)

Glossary of street cricket terms in TN

Street Cricket Chronicles from West Bengal – 81allout archive

Street Cricket Chronicles from Delhi – 81allout archive

Street Cricket Chronicles from Karnataka – 81allout archive

5 thoughts on “Street cricket chronicles: TN – the land of idea batting, sodukku ball, and face bowling”

  1. nice episode but probably with less anecdotes from the guest; however, the hosts made up with their interesting stories. lovely stories around Bala bhai and his ‘mentor’ :D, now I’m seriously curious to know the size of IDPL (ground/colony/empty spaces?)

    few points 🙂
    1. along with measuring the crease using a fairly standard scale (bat and a half), we also used similar techniques to measure wide markers :D. Full bat for off side (put a stone) and bat’s handle on the leg side (put another stone there)
    2. Mahesh though he says he lived all of 3 years in Delhi but remembers most of the things 😀 e.g., Azhar’s bat story, a story about Robin Singh jr, the slang for chucking (bhatta/batta) and so on. I’m sure there must be many more.
    3. we have played with plastic, rubber, cosco (green and red), cork ball (rightly mentioned in the podcast as having a fake seam :D). on that note, nobody has mentioned plastic ball as part of their street cricket stories :D. It may not be considered serious cricket enough but I when I used to live in Jhansi there used to be plastic ball (locally called anda ball) tournaments there, and that was serious cricket for sure.

  2. Thanks for the detailed comment, Vivek. It’s always fascinating to note the commonalities in street cricket across regions in India.

    While I lived barely 3 years in Delhi, pretty much all of it was spent playing cricket I suppose. I have very little memory of that city beyond cricket. Must have played in 50 different grounds in those 3 years.

    The point on wide markers is spot on. Missed out on adding them. The other funny part about the crease measurement is in most places they use bat and half for batting end and just a bat for the bowling end. Also amusing is the way they measure 22 yards for the pitch. Some just walk 22 steps, some hop 22 steps. In Delhi there was this peculiar measure of 3 tiptoes equal to 1 yard and therefore some guys would do 66 steps of tiptoe to mark the pitch length!

    Your distinction on yellow and red cosco balls reminded me of another variant of Tennis ball cricket we used to play – we tear the fur on one half of the ball along the line marked in the ball. That brings swing into the equation even in a Tennis ball – boy, it resulted in prodigious swing! Yorkers with those balls were deadly.

    I missed out on talking about chucking cricket. A format where there is no bowling, only chucking. The kind of pace some guys generated in chucking is insane. There was a real fear of physical injury even with Tennis balls. Easily the hardest format I have batted in.

    Never played in plastic balls beyond the verandah in my home. Again, the swing plastic balls generated was a lot of fun in the small space.

    1. Thanks for a comprehensive reply, MS 🙂

      By your accounts, Delhi does seem like a nice place 😉

      We had same measurements for crease markers for both sides; and pitch was measured using 22 long steps – somewhat between a regular step and a hop. Tip-top was reserved for tosses only 😀 (as Aftab mentioned in the first of the podcasts)

      The thing associated with tennis balls is the huge amount of stories. Sometimes (very few times actually) we also took off one side of the cloth as some elder guy in our team had heard that in Pakistan, they play with tape ball. So we thought this is similar :D. One even elder bhaiya in locality (who we often wondered never ever even played the game) used to tell us how West Indians play with wet Tennis balls. I later realized he may have seen them playing beach cricket.

      Btw wrt to Idea batting, is it something you say in sarcasm?

      We didn’t have chucking cricket, but yes some bowlers had a 3-step runup. And they could bowl with pinpoint accuracy, perfect death bowling 😀

      One controversial thing (and still is, as I see kids playing in parks) was the boundary line. And the best time to decide the exact dimensions was during the end overs of the 2nd innings. 😀

      Lastly, I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned leg cricket in any of the podcasts. We played it in school where we were invariably short of things.

      P.S: I listen to the podcasts on one Anchor app (on my phone). There I could see the name of the uploaded audio file (let’s say Jagadeesan_final_edited). Don’t ask me why, but it feels good 😀

  3. Nice pod. Brings back lots of memories. I used to play a bit of tennis ball cricket at Somasundar Cricket Ground aka SCG 🙂 and Anna Nagar . Wondering if the title pic of this pod page is SCG. No clue how it looks now .

    The most fun I had was playing with rubber ball with a seam- it was quick , bouncy and would swing. Easy to rough up batsmen. At the same time there was amazing value for shots if well timed.

    Always felt tennis ball and rubber ball cricket helped players in getting started and developing their cricketing skills which is handy when they “graduate” into proper leather ball cricket.

  4. and a nice feel good reference of Maltova (perhaps mostly available in CSDs); I remember it as a 3rd or 4th alternative of Bournvita/Horlicks/Complan 🙂

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