Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marina Beach Cricketers: Where to Go?

Published Date: 11/5/2009
By G Saravanan

Chennai, November 4: THE city police made a silly point by banning cricket at Marina Beach, according to young willow wielders. For, most of the playgrounds suggested as alternatives by the Chennai Corporation “are not fit for playing, let alone cricket”, they said. “We do not have any big place for playing cricket in North Chennai. That’s why we keep coming to the beach,” said Jayakumar, a resident of Tondiarpet and a regular visitor to Marina.

Jayakumar is among the 500 children from various parts of north Chennai, such as Tondiarpet, Korukkupet, Thiruvottiyur, Royapuram, Mannadi and Washermenpet, who visit the Marina both in the mornings and evenings to play cricket with lawn tennis balls. Children and youth from Egmore, Triplicane, Royepattah, Ice House and Mylapore too converge to the to beach for the same reason.

While the police banned the sport citing the nuisance factor for morning walkers and visitors besides the possibility of damaging equipment installed as part of the beach beautification drive, the grumpy children claimed that the ban was only meant to appease high profile (VIP) morning walkers. “We have been playing the game here for years and never indulged in any anti-social activities as claimed by police,” one of the senior beach cricketers told Express.

Though the city has many playgrounds, most of them are not accessible to commoners since private clubs maintain them for paid customers. Marina was the only open field - besides a handful of other corporation grounds - that was available for children of lesser gods. Even that is now out of reach,” they said. The cricketers also rubbished allegation of disrupting traffic on service lanes and creating nuisance.

“We play cricket on the beach. I don’t understand how we disrupt traffic on service lane, which is not a parking lot for VIPs,” they said. When beach cricketers staged a road-roko on Sunday to press the issue, the police had suggested that they shift to an alternate site like Island Ground, but Tuesday’s ban order conveniently skipped mentioning that site, they claimed.

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