Exclusive: Sunil Gavaskar presents a new cricket-based board game

Updated: Dec 11, 2019, 12:52 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

Keen to support a project that wants to inspire the youth to spend their time meaningfully, sports legend Sunil Gavaskar joins hands with a board game firm on a cricket game.

Pics/Ashish Raje
Pics/Ashish Raje

There are two sides to Sunil Gavaskar. One that trails off, listening (or probably not) while those around him speak, tinkering with a piece of silver wire stuck in the crevice of a polished, wooden table inside the conference room of his Prabhadevi office. The other avatar comes alive, as if from deep slumber, to discuss the subject of his passion — sports. There's a twinkle in his eye when he's trying to explain what it means to play a game, whatever kind it may be. And despite being a cricket legend, who set and broke records throughout his career, the Little Master remembers not just enthralling moments of victory on the field, but also reminisces with as much earnestness the many evenings spent in quietude at his home (or on the train) playing cards with his mother.

As such, at the core of his latest endeavour — where he joins city-based board games firm Binca Games' founder-couple Rubianca and Sahil Wadhwa as an investor — lies not the wish to promote a particular sport, but rather, the desire to encourage sportsmanship. And today, as their first project, they are launching Qwicket, a two-player card game that draws from the popular sport.

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(From left) Sunil Gavaskar, Rubianca and Sahil Wadhwa.

This falls in line with the vision that led to the company's inception. Rubianca, the creator among the duo, elaborates, "Our worlds have become much wider. Whether it is because of social media or other reasons, we have access to many more things today than we did while growing up. The reason why I got into this was because I loved playing board games, but we had limited options, and in my head, I wanted more. What happened as people discovered the plethora of games that are out there is that they started coming back into our lives. As a result, there came the realisation that this is not just for 'nerds' or people who don't like to go out."

There's a ring of truth in what she's saying. Be it polaroids, bell-bottomed pants or boards games, the trappings of an era gone by are slowly trickling back into public imagination. With games particularly, there has been a slow but sure rise of interest, especially in this city, as is clear from the mushrooming of game-centric F&B joints, small-scale weekend get-togethers being put together by establishments, as well as full-blown board gaming events.

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And with making a wider range of games available to the Indian audience at the core of this company's focus, it was natural to progress to ones themed around sports after having created a few word and strategy games. For Rubianca, when the idea for a cricket game materialised, it was natural to reach out to Gavaskar, a long time family friend. It turns out, the cricketer has also played an important role in fine-tuning Qwicket.

"Often, I would go to him and ask, 'Does this thing make sense in the aspect of the cricketing world?' So, for example, the cards are split into batting and bowling cards, and the two cards on the table have to match for the batsman to score runs. Then, there's a Bye card, which can be a little ambiguous, so I had to check with him if it made sense in the scope of cricket. He explained that you can only play it on 0 runs," Rubianca says, explaining how she relied on Gavaskar on several occasions to iron out the logistics.

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There are two sets with 18 cards on each side. After a coin toss, each player opts to bat or bowl and plays the 10-minute game in three overs

But for Gavaskar, the driving force behind this collaboration has less to do with passion and more with intent, who by attaching his name to it is seeking something much larger than patronage. So, it's not just about building an interest in or making a wide variety of board games available in India, but directed towards inspiring the country's youth to find more meaningful (and mindful) ways of spending their time. "See, I think we have all grown up with book cricket. But over there, you can control things to a great extent. With this game, there's an element of uncertainty, which is there in the actual game of cricket as well. I know a lot of the current generation spends most of their time playing video games, but this is something that I thought might appeal to a younger generation. And it's also a great way to spend your evenings."

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Sunil Gavaskar

Of course, the thought that Qwicket could build an interest in cricket was always on Gavaskar's mind, because unlike watching a match on the television, this would allow young minds to participate in it, too. He's candid when he calls himself, "a little too idealistic" in thinking that a mere card game could bring about any change in mindsets. But his thinking is as positive as it is wishful. He says, "I believe that when you involve yourself in such activities you develop a competitive instinct, where you want to win and you want to do well. But at the same time, I do hope that it also teaches you how to lose."

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