Community Cricket at The Verandas, Fuelling Lives
Sports is not just a game in action; its passion and the energy it brings into the lives of sports people at heart is way beyond for a non-sporty person to understand. Wellness experts liberally recommend a sport to people, and in India, cricket is no less than a religion. Growing up being a part of the ‘Gali Cricket’ phenomenon would not be new to many across generations; a place where all social class and distinction end is where the sports begin.
For some people like Aloke Goenka, a business professional and a resident of The Verandas in Gurugram, it was a new lease on life. He calls it a second innings of his life. At 49 years old, Aloke’s hell broke loose when he was suddenly diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “It was impossible for me to believe the doctor’s news of cancer in my body. Apart from the personal reasons of what my family would have to go through, a part of me was deeply saddened at my unfulfilled desire, which I was internally working for, my dream to make a cricket league of 40 plus amateurs. All my dreams came shattering to the ground, and I felt now I’d have to live with an unfulfilled dream.
Sports, especially cricket, “was in my blood from school to college days. I often get injured at the cricket ground but always bounce back with greater zeal. Even when entangled in the usual life’s course, cricket ground was my go-to place to feel grounded into higher energies and re-fuel my body and mind. I think that’s what worked internally for me in my prognosis while I was going through the treatment; a tough battle, and its treatment is tougher,” said Aloke. Six rounds of chemotherapy, medications and a battery of consulting & treating doctors and dieticians all were overbearing for him. “I took it as a bad test cricket innings, an unpredictable pitch or miss judged pitch by the player playing reckless shots. The inner voice that strengthened me through the journey was to start the cricket league for 40 plus. Being a cricket and food enthusiast, I am greatly influenced by Yuvraj Singh’s life and his book, which I read multiple times, “The Test Of My life, From Cricket to Cancer and Back. It kept me motivated to come back to my passion for cricket.”
After about three months after he completed his last chemotherapy, “I took a baby step towards my dream of starting 40+ league and organised Verandas Masters, led by Aloke Goenka Vs Veranadas Legends led by Nitin Sood.” It was an Intra-Verandas match (family fun event) at Backyard Sports Club Sector- 59 Gurugram. “We got an overwhelming response from players, and around 150 residents were present to cheer their favourite teams. Camaraderie in the atmosphere was refreshing. And I think that’s what I badly needed. Though before going, I thought I would not play, the igniting atmosphere of the cricket ground was a magnet, and I could not resist but play. Even my Oncologist came to cheer me. I already feel healthier and energised seeing myself a step closer to my dream of forming a league.”
The Veranda Match
The cricket match started with the National Anthem. “The match was Live telecasted on YouTube, and the most interesting thing about us as a community coming together to celebrate life, the resident of the community playing were aged from 8-year-old to 85-year-old; that was the expanse. Cricket has always bound people across age, cutting across the barrier of caste and religion,” said Aloke emphatically.
There was huge applause when 85-year-old gentleman Bill Hoon (former captain of Roshanara Club and ex-player of Kent County (England) headed towards the cricket field to bat. It was a memorable and awe-inspiring moment for all who witnessed the match. Sanjay Bansal, a senior professional, happily got the crowd engrossed with his brilliant humour and engaging cricket commentary to add to the sports vibes. Abhir Khanna, a budding lyricist and singer from The Verandas, entertained the crowd with melodic singing during the innings break. Towards the end, trophies were handed over to the winners.
The final score: Verandas Masters won by 50 runs. Tarun Sikka was declared the Man of the Match. The Best Batsman trophy was given to Nitin Sood. Krish Bhatia was recognised as The Best Bowler; the Fighter of the Match was Vaibhav Suri. Arun Soni got the title of Catch of the Match.