Honey, I shrunk the cricketLee Calvert brings memories flooding back with his post on the board-game we called "mini-cricket". Actually, I played it only a couple of times on the official set, which a classmate brought home. We had a big hall those days, ideal for such kind of sprawling activities. The set consisted of plastic figures, a miniature slide-like gantry to launch the ball to the batsman, and a bat. On being hit, the plastic fielders used to go down to ground unnecessarily, much like Yuvraj Singh (without the injury grimace). You could play games for hours.
The only problem was that I didn't own a set. There wasn't any question of buying one - for starters, I don't remember seeing it in nearby shops, but more importantly, buying board games that I'd merely get bored of the next summer wasn't a great idea. And like the aubergine-aunty in Goodness Gracious Me, why should you buy it when I can make it at home? For free.
We had an excellent track record of creative self-sufficiency - we had made replicas of Cluedo based merely on a out-of-focus photograph in a kid's magazine and peeks at a neighbour's set. Ludo and even chess figurines (out of chapatii aaTTaa), despite having a proper chess set, were some of the other achievements. So native middle-class ingenuity went into full drive.
The fielders were little wooden alphabet blocks, who were used to playing different roles each summer. This did mean that in comparison to the official set, they were much more squat and wide (that is, more Ranatunga than Dilshan), but they covered the angles better. IIRC, stumps were easily made of toothpicks. A supply of shiny ball-bearings took care of our cherries. The bat was an improvement even on the set. They were pink plastic ice-cream spoons. A stack of books and a metal piece with a wide depression served as the bowling machine, while the skipping rope marked the boundary rope. In those days, there was very little brand awareness, otherwise, we might have even have had advertisements.
Sixes were smashed (risky shots); fielders went down with alacrity, sometimes even before the ball was bowled (due to a stray and inquisitive wind blowing through the windows); we learnt how to spin the ball down the chute (bowlers had a tough time even then and had to adapt).