“It’s not that kind of club”, said my friend Unmish quietly when I turned up 30 minutes before the start of my first ever game for KCC and asked what warm-ups we would be doing. With that, I was in. This was going to be my kind of club.
KCC is not the kind of club that plays to win at all costs – lucky, because that would be at odds with our collective athletic abilities. We bat from number 1 through 11 – and often have to. Our batting collapses are legendary but so are our 150-run partnerships and impossible victories (come on editor, alternative facts!). Our batting records feature 22-ball 50s and 34-ball 1s. We score not so much in the “V” as in the “X”, despite the textbook-perfect cover drives you might see in this Yearbook. Our top batsmen monopolise the most coveted batting trophy of all – “The Aylesbury Award” for most ducks in the season.
We offer the full spectrum of cricketing experiences. We have footage (we do not skimp on technology, the annual dinner menu, or clubwear) of our bowlers sending down toe-crunching yorkers at nearly 130 kph, but we have also sent down 44 wides in an innings. No target is safe when we are bowling, yet we have taken 3 wickets for no runs while defending 4 runs in the last over. We take as many improbable catches as the gentle lobs we drop. Our batsmen may (and often do) chase the wide ones but our fielders are uncompromising – they strictly let the ball come to them. And our wicketkeeper is severely tested at least twice down the leg side in each over.
We record our games on colour-coded scoresheets from which matches can be reconstructed in intricate and deeply embarrassing detail. Only a select few are permitted to score – defenders of this system pointing out that more democratic opportunities to score exist and are often squandered out in the middle. We endeavour to improve the quality and quantity of our shots, both with bat and camera. We focus on the really important things, like post-match bonhomie and lamb kebabs.
Speaking of the really important things, our families and loved ones feel genuinely welcomed within the club. Our kids think that KCC is the pinnacle of cricket, and in many ways, none related to the quality of our game, they are right. Our alumni feature test cricketers as well as Bollywood – we were years ahead of the IPL. We have more “tigers” than the Sundarbans. Our friends – “members” sounds too impersonal – have been known to fly in from afar for our games, and host us when we visit. And now, with the formation of Kensington India, there’s even a corner of a foreign field that is forever KCC.
In short, we are Kensington – we put the “social” into social cricket. Our motto, “Quid nobis ardui”, or “What is hard for us?” is sometimes best left unanswered. KCC – coming soon to a Mumbai maidan near you.