“Boys who love cricket will be drawn to the book with a chuckle and of course cricketing girls too.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This slim story about a group of boys is true to Ruskin Bond’s storytelling. Ranji and his cricketing friends have the perfect pitch next to a river bank. All they need is a series of good matches among the grass and the flowers. So they get together with the boys from the village with a few adults thrown in, including the local bank manager. The only problem is that the river is home to a 15 foot long crocodile called Nakoo who is nosy and has sharp teeth. Not that Nakoo is initially a problem. Ranji organises his matches which proceed in a cheerfully chaotic fashion with balls falling into the river.

Bond has a cast of characters with whom he is perfectly familiar – the baker, the village boys and Ranji who wants to be cricketer and hates maths. He also seems to understand the greedy thoughts of a crocodile who hates crowds but loves the corky leathery combo of  cricket ball which lodges between his back teeth.

Bond could have made the story a ball by ball over of a match between the crocodile and the boys but the story goes beyond that to include the corpulent bank manager who has his own sense of importance and who is fleshed out by little details like his flourished bat.

Of course, what happens to the bank manager is similar to the fate that afflicts Jim Corbett’s khansama but it forms a happy climax to the fun of the cricket matches. Boys who love cricket will be drawn to the book with a chuckle and of course cricketing girls too.

 

Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 3rd May 2016

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