The cry of “Howzat!” echoes off the walls of the surrounding buildings, with shouts of dissenting voices following hot on hits heels. Friendly arguments then ensue, with the final decision being “Not out” and the game continues.
This all takes place in a central park, commonly known as Cow Park because of the cows and water buffalo that amble over the stony ground to graze on any little blade that might have managed to push its way up through the hardened ground. It is dominated by three enormous ancient trees, the canopies of which cover the entire area in shade.
The fielders, whose footwear range from bare feet to plastic slip on sandals in all states of disrepair, scurry and slide across the dusty, stony terrain, trying to field the ball that often ricochets at obtuse angles off the gnarled twisted trunks of the trees. Another unusual aspect of this gentlemen’s game of cricket being played in downtown Pokhara, is that the wickets are comprised of a pile of broken concrete bricks, which ultimately would make it almost impossible for a wicket to fall when bowled at by the threadbare tennis ball that tends to bounce off without removing a single “bale”. Two male water buffalo go head to head at deep square leg in an effort to assert their dominance, but nothing distracts or dampens the passion with which these boys play their match. They can be seen out in the park till the sun sets and the street lights turn on, which is a sign for them to call it a day.
These children may not have much materially, but their lives are far richer for it and the good sportsmanship in their general behaviour is a testament to this fact. No one is excluded from this match – that is not a 1 day or 5 day, but a life series.