Chennai – Slice of Life 3
And the third in the series.
Earliest (cricketing) memories of Chennai of a 76-year old blogger :-) :
When I came to Madras in 1949, I was residing in Venkateswara Hostel, Triplicane. Before joining the hostel, I was staying out and dining in “Vaishnava Lodge”, an eat-out run by one M.J.Rangaswamy, elder brother of the great M.J.Gopalan, famous cricketer and hockey player. Till 1948, my idea of test matches was only through the running commentaries of A.I.R. by great men like Vizzy, Merchant etc. For about 5 years, I was a regular visitor to the M.C.C. grounds (now known as M.A.C.Stadium), nurtured by a great Englishman C.P.Johnston, manager of Burmah-Shell. He spotted 2 youngsters with great potential for cricket. One was Mr. M.J.Gopalan, who got into Burmah-Shell due to the efforts of Johnston and the other was the fiery, fast C.R.Rangachary, who was in the Police Service as Inspector. Since he was in Govt. service, he had to face a lot of hurdles to shine in cricket. Yet, during the Australian tour, the Giant – Don Bradman described him as a “lion of a bowler”. M.J.Gopalan captained Ranji and also represented India in international matches. Two memorable matches, which I still remember with ecstasy are the “Commonwealth Team 1” and “Commonwealth Team 2” in successive years. That is when the 3 great Ws – Worrel, Wallcot and Weeks played here. Rangachary was unquestionably the fastest bowler then. C.P.J. tended and nursed not only the 2 players, but also the pitches in Chepauk like his eyes. Of course, Chennaiites owe the present stadium to M.A. Chidambaram Chettiar, but the pitches have been leased to the T.N.C.A. and they have done a wonderful job in maintaining them through Parthasarathy, the curator.