Grounded in the spirit

Here’s the thing. The Chepauk Cricket Ground. Possibly the finest cricketing venue in the country, perhaps one of best, in the world. And it’s not just a frog-in-the-well’s viewpoint.
To quote Bob Willis (first quoted over at Recursive Hypocrisy)

The fastest pitch I have played on was not in Jamaica or Perth. It was in Madras. I just ran in and bowled as usual, and was plain stunned, when the ball just flew everywhere. That venue has produced some the widest range of pitches and some of the best too….

Or, to quote a better source – CricInfo:

the MA Chidambaram Stadium, noted for its sporting pitches. Better known as Chepauk, taken from the area of its existence, the first Test played here was in 1933-34 between Douglas Jardine’s England and CK Nayudu’s India. For long, Test matches at Chepauk were synonymous with the Pongal (Harvest) festival. There have been records galore at this venue.

(Emphasis mine)

And it’s there for the world to see. Cricket teams score consistently well here, bowlers have a ball (no pun intended, of course) bowling their hearts out. And umpires don’t dread their life. The grass is green, this side of the fence. Here’s proof.


The ground, managed by the TNCA, and a part of the Madras Cricket Club (MCC) has history. As much as, perhaps, Indian Cricket itself. The third oldest cricket ground in the country (according to some) and a venue which’s seen more records shattered than, well, anywhere else in the country.


Here’s where Sunil Gavaskar scored his big 236. And here’s where India came a cropper for 83.
Here’s where Saeed Anwar scored a 194 in a world cup. And here’s where, the MCC brews frothy beer and serves them at your table in big pitchers. The club’s walls are wood paneled, and well, look like a club.

In short, here’s where Cricket is, well, cricket. The crowds, the ground, the staff, the pitch, the game. Each lifts the other one up, and you get an experience that’s difficult to spot elsewhere in the country

And, when the scores are tallied, and the crowds are ushered home, and players put their legs up, the ground is still a treat to, just, sit, watch and marvel at.


11 Comments so far

  1. Ted McNulty (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

    Thank you for kindling my memories. Indeed it is a fine cricket ground. 40 years ago I played there and a local seamer U.Prabaker rao knew how
    to take advantage of the pitch. I believe the curator was Muthu. There were other Madras cricketers who loved playing there since the staff treated the cricketers like royalty and the local
    cricket urchins and experts treated them like Hindu
    sub gods.
    Thanks again

  2. Navneeth (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    Psst…Saeed Anwar scored the 194 in the 1997 Independence Cup.

  3. Rastafari (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 10:16 pm

    I wish you had written about the ‘atmosphere’.

    Sadly though, its going the Wankhede way – lesser tickets for the public, and more for the corporates.

  4. tsk tsk (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

    i dont like the concrete roofing and pillars though…the stands i wish, were designed better

  5. Govar (unregistered) on May 30th, 2007 @ 11:59 pm

    You are a neat photographer – covered the onlu multi-colored seat stretch from different angles. :) That reminds that people sitting in those seats almost never participate in any mexican wave. Those are costly seats, and also the most boring ones.

  6. Ravages (unregistered) on May 31st, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    Thanks, y’all.

    Ted: Things haven’t changed much. People still treat cricketers as gods of the pantheon. Why don’t you mail me with your experiences playing on this pitch? I could take it up as a guest post. My email id:

    Navneeth: Oops. Will change it.

    Rastafari: Will cover the atmosphere angle soon.

    Tsk tsk: Hmmm…

    Govar: I am not sure – last time I was there, the Mexican wave was in full flow, to pun badly.

  7. raj (unregistered) on May 31st, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

    I understand and endorse your passion for Chepauk, but I see no basis for calling it the best ground in India, one of the best in the world, etc. If it was in Chepauk that Gavaskar scored his 236, it was on some other ground that he scored a century in each innings. Every venue can boast of some unique records. Every player can cite his own favourite ground based on his own experiences and memories. Every ground offers its own ambience.

    If I can make a generic observation on the posts at Metroblogging Chennai. While you can write glowingly about the city you love, you should not use the superlative ( ‘Chennai is best’) tone to describe qualitative aspects. As one who travels extensively all over India, I find that each city is a ‘package deal’ with its mix of pluses/minuses depending on the viewer’s standpoint.

    That criticism aside, let me compliment the team at Metroblogging Chennai for regularly coming out with interesting and thoughtful posts on the city.

  8. Ravages (unregistered) on May 31st, 2007 @ 12:50 pm


    I buy your points about overdoing the ‘Chennai is best’ theme. I agree that some of us, some of the time, get carried away with the adulation.

    But as far as Cheapuk is concerned, I do think it is one of the best. And so do a lot of players who’ve played here, or have had some kind of association with it, outside of the fans. If you noticed Ted’s comment to the post, he mentions how he’d played here and it was a sporting pitch. Bob Willis’s comments about the pitch’s bounce and speed are telling.
    And having been to the ground three four times, and the way the crowd behaves, the management and the colour of the grass – I have to say this is one heck of a ground.

    Thank you, though, for the praise about Chennai Metblog. I am sure we’ll continue to do the same.

  9. tsk tsk (unregistered) on May 31st, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    @ Ravages


    Dont you think there are way too many pillars from the roof into the stand? Next time you go there , go a little higher in the stands.. then you’ll notice that you cant get a 45 Degree panorama, without an ugly pillar or two coming into your line of sight towards the ground..

    Also i think its about time that the seating capacity was augmented. It seems to be going full despite tickets being sold for 1000, 3000 , 7000, 10000

  10. Ravages (unregistered) on May 31st, 2007 @ 5:07 pm

    tsk tsk:

    True. There are pillars. They could be a good photographic element. Hmmm….

  11. Manimaran (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 4:30 am

    Chepauk… Hmmmmmmmm.. what lovely memories I have of this wonderful ground.. Remember, it was built in 1967 and it is a marvel in its own right.. It has a concrete roof to protect the truly knowledgeable crowd from the harsh sun, where every spectator will appreciate each and every aspect of the game…

    I was surprised no one mentioned India’s “Tied Test” against Australia..

    The pictures show the MCC club (meant for those who have too much money or those who belong to the Raj era) and the T.N.C.A members stand.. Most of the spectators in these stands are those who talk about cricket without playing it…

    The one opposite to this stand is know as the “D” stand, which is always meant for those spectators who play cricket at club levels of T.N.C.A league. Arguably the best stand to watch cricket, sitting with friends who play cricket rather than with those who just talk about it or claim knowledge of it..

    Behind this stand is the famous B.S Nets where every budding cricketer will walk in at morning 5am before the first rays of the sun, to start practicing their skills (including myself).. I miss those good old days when I used to visit Chepauk everyday rain or shine.. Now roaming like a vagabond in USA watching sic.. “Baseball”

    Planning to relocate to chennai soon, to teach my son how to play the real “Gentelman’s game” of cricket.

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