Rachel Haynes has just come down the ground and heaved a six over long-on.
“Ghacha-kachar-kachar-kachar…HU–HA–HU–HA!!” sing about a 100 people together in the North Stand at Brabourne.
There have been some high-scoring matches, some low-scoring ones, some very one-sided and some very close. While the cricket has been inconsistent at times, there has been one fact which has not wavered at the ICC Women’s World Cup — the presence of school kids who have attended most matches at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Be it any team, any match — the kids have made sure that the players have someone to impress, to play for and most importantly, to entertain.
I sat with the fans for an hour during the Sri Lanka vs Australia match, and was impressed with the enthusiasm they showed. And of course, the innovation.
While the journalists surely add their shouts of ‘shot!’, ‘fielding!’ and ‘bowled!’ with occasional clapping — and all of this is (hopefully) pretty audible to players, considering there’s very little noise at the stadiums — the kids have added a different dimension to the games. A very simple example would be a comparison between the atmosphere at the BKC ground and that at the Brabourne. I’d call the Brabourne a stormy sea with crashing waves — and the BKC a calm lake with only the sound of wind moving over it.
Stanley Louis is the sports teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel – Sion (OLGC), and was in charge of 70 kids who had woken up at 7 AM on a Sunday morning to be at the game. Amid a chorus of ‘O-L-G-C’, he told Firstpost: “It’s been a great experience. Most of these kids have never seen a live sport event. But it’s sad to see the stadium empty apart from this stand… especially since the event is free. Also, it’s pretty sad the cameras don’t roll towards the crowd. Parents are watching on TV, asking us where the kids are seated!”
Observing the kids was a fantastic experience. There were girls and boys in equal measure and most of the fans were joining in the fun. As sponsors came with their ’4′ and ’6′ posters, they rushed towards the distributors to collect them.
And all credit to the ICC to create this buzz in Mumbai. An earlier report in the Mid-Day quoted their official as saying: “We went to around 200-250 schools and dropped in invitations and the schedule of the World Cup. We even ran a program where we took the World Cup trophy to popular schools like Don Bosco (Matunga), Anjuman-I-Islam (CST) and Rizvi Springfield (Bandra) among others. Even the principals of their respective schools encouraged children to watch and support Women’s World Cup.”
However, Cuttack hasn’t seen such attendance and it’s mainly due to changes in schedule. “We couldn’t carry out the same sort of programme in Cuttack because the change was so last-minute. However, the media has completely embraced the Women’s World Cup there — and unlike Mumbai, we’re getting 1000-6000 fans there (general fans – not school kids). We’d want the media to create more awareness so that more people can attend the World Cup. After all, it’s free,” an ICC Spokesperson told Firstpost.
Most of the cheers at Brabourne are reserved for Sri Lanka, which is the only Asian team remaining in the tournament. India and Pakistan have finished 7th and 8th respectively. There have been a Sri Lankan flags waving throughout too.
But along with the flags, there’s a bit of dancing and singing with their dhols. An enthusiastic Sri Lankan tells me amid a graceful step that the name of the song they were singing is ‘Bandoora Mal’ — which means flowers of the bush. This was despite their team being completely thrashed by the Aussies.
Back in the press box and as another round of screams echoes through the stadium, foreign journalists wonder what they’re shouting.
Even most of the Indian press cannot discern the words. But, it’s fine… as long as it encourages the ladies on the pitch, they can clamour as much as they like.
Meanwhile, as another boundary races through the covers, I tell myself: “Ghacha-kachar-kachar-kachar…HU–HA–HU–HA!!”