I don’t know if you’ve noticed this lately… a child standing akimbo, save for one hand. This hand is whirling away for all it’s worth, fists apparently clenched. The child’s face is somewhat contorted, such is the effort he’s putting into the whirling.
The other children around him stare with hypnotic fascination at the arm, their entire beings focused on the closed fist. Why, their mothers must think, if only they’d put half the effort in their math homework, they’d be coming first in class right now.
Eventually though, the whirling subsides. The child extends the hand that was being exercised ahead, with the fist still tightly clenched. A challenging look appears on his visage. He puffs his chest out, lifts his head a little and stares at the opposing captain.
The other folds his arms across his chest, a calculating look in his eye.
And if the little pebble is indeed in the fist, rather than out of it, the opposing captain will have won the toss. Variants include putting both hands behind your back, and then out in front, asking the other to guess which fist encloses the pebble.
The reason this method gained popularity lies in the fact that children rarely have coins of any description in the pockets of their shorts while playing cricket downstairs.
Plus, the whirling of the arm and the surreptitious flinging of the pebble was a matter of skill – a game in itself.
And most of all, it was unbridled fun. It might not have been balanced in terms of probability, and the outcome might not have been judged fair and unbiased by whiskered professors of statistics, but it was fun.
And I know it’ll never happen, but try and imagine Tony Greig getting hysterical while Ponting stares with rapt concentration at Dhoni imitating windmills.
The little ones could even dish out tips.
Glorious, glorious childhood.