Being a part of any team activity be it work related or sports, in itself is a great experience. But to lead one from the front and for an extended period of time is a different feeling altogether. Thanks to a bunch of boys that I teamed up at my workplace back in 2012, I was able to lead the team as a Captain and run it for 19 seasons over almost  7years. Yes 7 continuous years with just 2 season breaks during the entire duration. No doubt there were lots of highs, plenty of lows, heaps of frustrations and shitloads of celebrations. What made it special was the fact that we all enjoyed all of these moments individually in our own ways as well as collectively as a team.. And that’s what makes any team activity an amazing one isn’t it. Aptly our team was cheekily named “Hit & Run“, a lot of times which we very much failed to do so, either Hit or Run !!

It all started 7 years ago when I wanted to start a team from work to take part in an Indoor Cricket League. Most indoor sports in New Zealand are very well organised and run; very structured, formal and socially competitive. Back in the day when I wanted to start the team a dozen of my colleagues put their hands up to be a part of it. It was only at our very first grading game that I realised that none of them had any indoor cricket experience whatsoever but were all keen to take part and give the best they could. Half of the dozen were Indians, the remaining Kiwis & others. The only common factor among all of them was that they knew the basics of batting & bowling but Indoor Cricket is nothing like a regular outdoor cricket.

To those who don’t know what Indoor Cricket is, CLICK HERE !! In short it’s mostly the regular cricket played within the caged set up of NETS in an area as big as a basketball court; it has it’s own sets of rules including negative scoring, additional net runs, stealing a run, 3rd ball outs etc. To a lot of Indians it might sound something like a glorified game of Gully Cricket !! But nope it’s a lot more comprehensive than that and it’s actually a recognised international sport played worldwide. There is actually an Indoor Cricket World Cup every 2 years which has been running for the last 25 years.  And guess what – Australia has been winning every single edition of the world cup in both Men’s and Women’s editions. I mean all the editions so far & it’s true. There have been 9 & 10 editions of Women’s and Men’s world cups respectively and Australia has won all 19 of them !! Sounds crazy doesn’t it?? 

Back to my team..Nothing fancy or nothing to exemplify. Yes it started as a team from work that I had put together. However over the seasons people moved from the company but still played with the team for all the good times we all were having. The team then expanded slowly to include friends & families of current & past players. And I think by season 14 though it was still my work team, it was just myself and another player who represented the company whilst the rest were all from various other organisations and different industries. There was once a time where there were 30 players to pick and choose from to start a season; we could almost start two different teams to be signed up each season. But yeah when it comes to liaising with the organisers, selecting the playing 8 and running a game every week not everyone puts their hands up for it 😉 And that was my forte. After so many seasons doing this on a weekly basis was as easy as cracking open an egg for breakfast 🙂 

What made running this team special was the fact that when it all started no one, other than myself (I had played 8 seasons in the previous years) had a clue about the intricacies of the game. Despite this in our very first season we won the Minor League and the next ambitious goal was to win the Major League. To achieve this we had to wait for 17 seasons. Along the way we won a couple more Minors and lost about 6 Major League semifinals but when that Major League Final win finally came in Season 17 it was a victory that was throughly cherished. During this waiting period the team won 4 successive Business Games championships (a one off yearly corporate league) in 5 years yet somehow lost the Majors. So when it finally did arrive it was all the more special !! It was so special that one of the players actually “retired” from the team saying that he’d like to sign off on a high, and he did !! Post which he even moved countries saying that was his last Indoor Cricket Game ever !! Haha

Over the years the team evolved, the players evolved, new players came into the team while some ‘retired’ or moved on, but the joy of being a part of the team, having a bit of fun, enjoying the game etc never faded. There were times when players broke their fingers, sprained their ankles, injured their backs, got bashed to various parts of their bodies etc; there was always some sort of banter after every single game whether we won or lost it but it didn’t take away the fact that at the end of it, we all had a good time. To me personally when it all started and we were losing a lot of games it would turn into frustration. I’d always think why wouldn’t people learn from their mistakes, why can’t they get better if they are playing week in & week out. There were times when after losing a game I’d promise myself that I wouldn’t sign up from the next season onwards. It felt like it was easier to herd a flock of sheep than to talk sense to the players on how the game works and what they needed to do. But that’s where the maturity kicked in over the years I suppose. Slowly when I stopped to point out the players’ mistakes & telling them what they had to do but instead doing what I was good at, to run the team, perform to my best abilities and let others follow if they wished to, I enjoyed my game a lot more. It made me more patient, relaxed, less stressed etc. In short, this short stint of 19 seasons and roughly about 400 games (with my team + playing for other teams)  has been to a large extent responsible to have made me the person I’m today and I can’t be more grateful about that. A huge thanks to all the boys over the years who were happy to be a part of my team and let me lead them, irrespective of the outcome. Thanks boys 🙂

More about Indoor Cricket below: