Cricket is big in India, and Dharavi is no exception. Every corner and every alley features improvised stumps, a bowler carefully thinking about his next move and a lucky batsman ready to show off his skills in front of the crowd. When the Cricket National Team wins a game, fireworks are being lit in their honour. That’s how big cricket is in Dharavi.

When we chose cricket as the main theme for Design Museum Dharavi’s second exhibition, we did so because we were inspired by how this game is being modified and reshaped in the streets of Dharavi. Anything close to a wooden or plastic stick will do as the perfect bat, balls differ in size, materials and colours, stumps are painted on walls, and rules are bent again and again to adapt the game to the size of the chosen location. What in a professional game would be a great drive, batting the ball out of the field’s bounds, in Dharavi it means quite the opposite. The batter is actually out because he lost the ball in between the rooftops, or even worse, endangered the neighbour’s life who was home cooking with a window open. What ‘Street Cricket’ symbolises in Dharavi is the local’s flexibility and ability to change and reinvent themselves on a daily basis.

On a Saturday morning, after some delays and logistic issues, our tournament was ready to kickoff. It featured 4 different teams from 4 different communities from all over Dharavi. Every player from each team was sporting a unique cricket uniform, displaying the team’s colours on an intricate and shiny hand-embroidered motif, courtesy of the skilled embroiders of Dharavi. These white polo shirts were made by local manufacturers and tailors just a few days before the tournament. Players also used handcrafted cricket gloves, featuring different leather pads and designs, made by a local maker who adapted his safety gloves production to the game of cricket in a matter of days.

The dj was blasting his music while the master of ceremony introduced the teams and warmed up the crowd while the players looked stunned at the cricket bats that were going to be used during the tournament: 27 hand-carved cricket bats of all kinds of different shapes and colours. Sandeep, a local carpenter who never made a cricket bat in his life, masterfully transformed old pieces of reclaimed wood into beautiful and unique bats. And just a couple of days before the tournament, another local maker added a touch of colour to the bats creating funky leather grips.

The results were unexpected, to say the least. While some of the bats broke after a few drives, players started to pick up their favourite ones, in what probably was the most diverse and bizarre cricket game in Dharavi’s history. A trophy in the shape of three golden stumps awaited the winning team, while the Dharavi Design Museum displayed to the visitors how local makers, who are clearly up to any kind of creative challenge, are also capable of manufacturing the most amazing and fine-looking objects.