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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Pakistan's sticky business
A street cricket scene in Pakistan
Nothing is necessary except a bat and ball.
test hello test
By Kashif Qamar
BBC Sport Online

Cricket equipment has seen many changes in recent years, from white balls to coloured clothing.

Among Pakistan's throng of cricket enthusiaists, there have been many adaptations to enable the game to go on no matter what the conditions.

In major urban centres like Karachi and Lahore where full-sized cricket fields are a rare luxury, it is not uncommon to see cricket being played in narrow lanes and streets.

And pads, arm guards and helmets can all be discarded with a single bat and ball all that is needed.

The latter, however, is a unique design - a tennis ball wrapped in sticky tape.

Although street cricket is decades old, the innovation of a taped ball is relatively new; introduced two decades ago.

Tape-ball cricket is contributing towards the development of the game and many Test players are its products
Pakistan wicket-keeper Rashid Latif

A tennis ball is too light for cricket but wrapping it in tape increases weight and enables it to act more like a traditional cricket ball with extra bounce and speed.

Teenagers playing cricket with colourful tape-wrapped balls are now a common sight throughout Pakistan.

Commonly known as tape-ball cricket, the new-style game has proved so popular that even some professional cricketers can often be seen joining in.

Current Pakistan wicket-keeper Rashid Latif is one of those many Test players who have been playing tape-ball cricket.

"It has always been a fun for me. It's thrilling and I still enjoy playing with my old friends," Rashid Latif told BBC Sport Online.

"Every youngster in Pakistan who play cricket has to pass through this phase. Now it's impossible for a cricketer not to play tape-ball cricket."

Saeed Anwar, Basit Ali, Moin Khan, Asif Mujtaba, Mansoor Akhtar and many others are regular players in tape-ball matches in Pakistan.

One organiser of tape-ball cricket matches said the adaptation proved popular for the fact that this new style cricket was very handy.

Scotch tape-wrapped tennis ball
Tennis balls are wrapped in coloured tape

"If you don't have two full-sized teams, number of players on each side could be cut, number of overs for a game is not fixed and so the other things," said Mansoor Siddiqi of Karachi's Taimuria Cricket Club.

"The only fixed things are the spirit and enthusiasm of the game."

A very popular season for such matches is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when tournaments of limited overs tape-ball matches are organised throughout the major urban centres in Pakistan.

"The reason is that the festive mood allows fans to organise matches after dawn, before dusk and even during the nights," Siddiqi said.

Tape-ball cricket is not recognised by official cricket bodies but tournaments featuring 200 teams are not unknown, with the winners collecting 25,000 rupees (278).

Such a tournament can last two weeks with every match limited to 15-20 overs a side.

"It's like beach football. In my view, it's playing a critical role in promoting cricket in Pakistan," said Latif.

"Many of the young and promising cricketers have been spotted through tape-ball cricket.

"If I am passing through a tape-ball match and see a player performing well, I can easily recognise his talent."

See also:

24 Jun 02 |  Cricket
Kiwis claim historic victory
24 Jun 02 |  England
India cold in warm-up loss
24 Jun 02 |  Cricket
ICC moves to solve fixture chaos
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