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.

7 Comments so far

  1. thetalkativeman (unregistered) on May 4th, 2007 @ 8:53 am

    Some nice info there. MJ Gopalan it was who delivered the first delivery in Ranji I think. He created more than a sensation bowling with his tuft firmly in place. There was some misgivings in his community when he wanted to do away with it. Rangachari though escaped without the tuft! Ranga’s bowling partner was Ghulam Guard, another policeman although Shute Banerjee was considered the fastest Indian then. It was a decent bowling attack in the absence of Nissar and Amar Singh but unfortunate enough to play 5-test “serieses” against Bradman’s Oz and Stollmeyer’s WI.
    Merchant played till ’52 so I’m not sure he was on the air in the 40s. Vizzy played till late 30s as well. I think the narrator was referring to AFS Bobby Talyarkhan who not only enjoyed manning a one-man commentary box but also waged a passionate battle against Partition.

    The contribution of Buchi Babu and Cota Ramasamy need to mentioned as well. Sometime back I had blogged about it here:

  2. thetalkativeman (unregistered) on May 4th, 2007 @ 8:56 am

    Chepauk owes a lot to good old Pacha, one of its unsung heroes. That Chennai almost always had sporting wickets is largely due to Pacha putting his foot down and refusing pleas from Indian captains to underprepare the wicket.

  3. jillu (unregistered) on May 5th, 2007 @ 9:27 am

    Is that 76 year old man well known to you Thennava? He seems to be avid cricketer himself and has a wealth of interesting asides about cricketing personalities.

    Would you be kind enough to introduce that 76 year old to me? Looks like I can a learn a lot about past Indian cricketers.

  4. Narayanan (unregistered) on May 5th, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    I know that 76 year old gentle man very well. Namaskarams Sir! Hope you are doing ok.

    Very well written. Interesting to read about old Chennai, cricket, MJ Gopalan, Rangachary and the others.

    Please write more !! Look forward to reading more about old Chennai, Cricket, life etc.

    My First match in Chepauk was a Ranji Match TN Vs Delhi in 1975/76. Amazing game. I’ve seen Pataudi, Engineer, Chandra, Prasanna, Venkat,solkar…to name a few…not to forget umpire ‘MAMSA’! who was very controversial.

    I also remember those days before TV when we used to get up at 3.30 am to catch the first train from Perungalathur to get down in Egmore ( Hmm..the smell of Tambaram VLR stall) and take 22 to go to Chepauk…Stand in line to go to the D-Stand.!!! Amazing days..wonderful commentaries – Anandha Rao and Gang.!! Memories Memories.!!

  5. Shruti (unregistered) on May 5th, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

    Great information..
    I had rather unkonown to all these..
    Thanks for sharing it with us..
    Take care..

  6. taggy (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

    i know , good memories just never go away !

  7. Mahadevan (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

    Ram Singh’s two sons – A.G.Kripal Singh and A.G.Milkha Singh played both for then Madras and India. V.V.Kumar was as good as Subhash Gupte, but was never considered except for a match against England in 1960.

    Perhaps, many would not know that umpire A.M.Mamsa was an employee of LIC in Mumbai. When Vishwanath scored that classic century against Australia in the second innings at Kanpur, in 1969, Mamsa was the umpire. Ashok Mankad, Mohinder Amarnath ( as a medium fast bowler), Eknath Solkar and Vishwanath all made their debut in that series.

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