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Vol. XXIX No. 6, July 1-16, 2019

An early Cricket club of Madras turns 90

by V. Ramnarayan

Page 8

C. Ramaswami (Cricket and Tennis), one of India’s double internationals apart from M.J. Gopalan.

A celebratory luncheon to bring together past players of a 90-year-old cricket club on 1st May, provided a leisurely break from the feverish excitement of IPL 2019 that had gripped Chennai and the rest of India. The club, Mylapore Recreation Club ‘A’, is today a team in the First Division of the TNCA league, captained by Ravichandran Ashwin, and includes Cheteshwar Pujara in its ranks, thanks to the enterprise of Take Solutions, the present ‘owners’ of the club.

One of the original teams to participate in the inaugural league championship of the Madras Cricket Association back in 1933-34, MRC ‘A’ did not always present such a formidable line-up by way of prize corporate catches – for most of the first 80 years of its existence, it was very much an amateur body, with its players casually sauntering in to the ground of a Sunday morning, for the sheer love of the game. This is not to suggest any dilution of the quality of cricket on offer. In fact, in the first decade of the tournament, MRC ‘A’ won the league three times, with three title triumphs being achieved by Triplicane Cricket Club, its arch-rival in Madras’s own War of the Roses, a la Yorkshire vs. Lancashire. The two rival teams boasted a world record of sorts for city clubs, producing India’s only double internationals, in M.J. Gopalan (TCC, cricket and hockey) and C. Ramaswami (MRC, cricket and tennis). Several other prominent members represented the club at some time or the other, including the legendary Buchi Babu Nayudu clan, the gifted P. Ramesh in the 1970s , C.R. Pattabhiraman (son of Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer and honorary secretary of MCA during the early decades), diplomat G. Parthasarathi, fast bowler P.S. Ramachandran (who once took 10 for 18 against TCC) and his three fast bowling sons, Ranji Trophy and Madras University stars P.K. Belliappa, V. Sivaramakrishnan, S.M. Krishnakumar, M.O. Parthasarathi, S. Sriram and S. Vasudevan. Many of these veterans were present at the get-together, with Krishnakumar making a flying visit all the way from Sydney specially for the occasion. Chief guest N. Murali of The Hindu (the original promoters of the club) spoke with warmth and humour of his memories of MRC ‘A’. MRC ‘B’, the second team floated by the Hindu family, continues to be sponsored by them, and Murali, a left-arm medium pacer, played for the club for some time.

P.R. Viswanathan, who ran the club as its secretary for a long period, recalled his joys and challenges as a promoter of young talent. He acknowledged the huge support the club enjoyed from individuals like Ramkumar, Thiagarajan and Sadasivan. Thiagu, Sada and P.S. Ashok were the informal organising committee that conducted the event with great care and aplomb. K.S. Viswanathan, the CEO of Chennai Super Kings, and M.O. Parthasarathi sponsored the event held at the Madras Boat Club – the contribution including a sumptuous lunch and an elegant MRC ‘A’ tee shirt for each invitee. While fast bowler P. R. Sundaram was the elder statesman of the gathering, K. Radhakrishnan recalled the thrilling victory MRC ‘A’ scored over Gopalapuram CC, with only five players reporting for the match. The bowling honours of the match were shared by Sundaram and skipper S. R. Subramaniam, while Radha scored a half century.

Among those present on the occasion was ‘Burma Shankar’ Subrahmanyan, a yesteryear amateur actor belonging to Cho Ramaswami’s Viveka Fine Arts, now famous as Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s father. Two other MRC connections with Carnatic music, D.K. Pattammal’s sons Sivakumar and Lakshman, were absent.

The writer’s own extended family was represented in MRC ‘A’ through the decades by the likes of P.S. Ramachandran, P.N. Sundaresan, P.N. Venkatraman, P.R. Sundaram, P.R. Venkatachalam, P.R. Viswanathan, P.S. Narayanan, P.S. Ramachandran (the 2nd), V. Ramnarayan, V. Sivaramakrishnan, G.R. Venkatakrishnan, P.S. Ashok, P.S. Narayanan (the 2nd) and P.S. Ramachandran (the 3rd)].

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