Monday, August 6, 2007

The Unpredictable Game

- By Capt. P. Alasingachar
[Capt. "P.A.Char" was a fine opening batsman, much renown for his on-side play. Scoring centuries was a habit for him, much of the steel of his mind and muscle both displayed in the act as much as his famous handshake which probably rates as one of the tightest! He would not tolerate a weak handshake to which he would immediately react "like a dead snake?" He worked as a Physical Education Teacher at the RIE after he had his stints at the reputed NIS, Patiala. He is a fitness buff. A good tennis player too. This is an article that holds good on any day. He was born in 1924.]

Cricket has been a game of unpredictability. The unpredictable factors are weather, ground, opponents and individ­ual's skills, personality and mental poise.

The game is centered round the batsmen. The fielding side is there to take them out. The fielding side, consisting of bowler, wick­et-keeper and nine others strategically posted, poses varieties of challenges to the batsmen. One factor of importance in batting is the striker's vision - his perceptual ability. As the striker faces the bowler delivering the ball he has to bring in numerous subtle and rapid reflexes in order to play the ball - forward or backward, to drive or pull, cut or glide or even block it. When the ball leaves the hand of the bowler, in the air, towards the striker, he will not be in an ideal position to appreciate the pace or speed of the ball until after it has started dipping. The accommodation of the eyes to focus the ball sharply starts a fraction of a second later - possibly when the ball is about six metres from the striker. When the ball is about two or three metres from him, his binocular vision is disturbed for a fraction of a second - called The Blind Spot, and he regains the focus a little later when the ball is much nearer to him. In the presence of the swerve, swing, spin, dip or float of the ball the striker's vision is put to a greater strain leading to a greater unpredictability of the total situation - consisting of behaviour of the ball and striker's possible responses viz., body alignment in line with the ball, the arc of the swing of the bat, offering the broad face of the bat and application of force to hit the ball or muffle its force to block it.

The best of human reactions in such a context is about one thousandth of a second - called "The Reaction Time" but most of us have either not cultivated that sharpness or blessed with that gift. The reaction time is not adequate to make the right judgment and subsequent reaction. There, definitely is another element which is called upon to func­tion and that is intuition.

lnspite of so many possibilities of failure why is cricket such an enjoyable game? This is because the element of unpredictability reduces the gap between Novice and Expert. This factor takes the enjoyment beyond tech­nical excellence.

The reduction of the gap between novice and expert is also due to a fact that the game does not brook any pride. The proud player is at once pushed down to the bottom and reduces him to a helpless spectator as it were. This ultimately makes him respect the unpredictability and become humble. Cricket is a great leveller.

If something is totally unpredictable we accept it as "an act of God or fate" but if it is partially unpredictable then we are dis­turbed and a poised acceptance alone is the outcome. Most of our tensions with others and even with ourselves are due to this lack of graceful acceptance. This lacking leads us to distortions of expectations and self evalu­ation. We start blaming and 'sledging' - a defence mechanism' - a personality factor.

This is where cricket becomes a sound school for character. It prepares us to face situations positively with humility and prepare us to enjoy the process rather than the out­come. The game of cricket is a character building institution.


[Picture of Prof. M. Ananthaswami Rau taken by author in April, 2007 at his Lakshmipuram residence]
[This article was written by Prof. M.Ananthaswami Rau for the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA in 1996.]

THE MYSORE GYMKAHANA has completed a glorious chapter of sixty years in the sporting life of the historic city of Mysore. In its Diamond jubilee year, the club can look back with satisfaction on the many achieve­ments in several spheres of the sporting and cultural scenes of the city. Some of these are highlighted in this article with particular ref­erence to the beginning and early phase of development of this institution.

In the late 1930s, some enthusiastic young sportsmen of the city, feeling the absence of a suitable club in the city, desired to establish one which would give opportunities for the young aspir­ants to develop their talents. With the guid­ance and encouragement of the elder sports­men and patrons of the city like C.M.H. Ranajodh Singh, Col D.C.N. Bahadur, F.C. Devaraj Urs, A. Lingaraj Urs, K.M. Subba Rao, V.K. Srinivasan, M.N. Parthasarathy, B.S. Keshavan, A.Narayanaswamy, A. Sambamurthy and others, it was decided to form THE MYSORE GYMKHANA. The benevolent Sardar K. Basavaraj Urs of the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion kindly consented to be the President and Chief patron of the club. C.B. Jaya Rao, active in the sports and theatre circles acted as Secretary of the club. The club was also permitted the use of the ground adjacent to Maharaja's College foot­ball ground but this was later taken away and the administrative building of the University of Mysore, Crawford Hall has come on it.

The bye-laws of the newly constituted club were prepared and printed by M.S.Cheluva Iyengar, one of the members of the club at his City Power Press. At the General Body meeting held on 24th June 1941 M. Anantaswamy Rau was formally elected as the Secretary under the constitution as contained in the bye-laws of the club and he held this position till 1949. The main sporting activity of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA was cricket and the club actively participated in local cricket tournaments and also in the First Di­vision of the State cricket league tournament for the Sir Mirza Ismail Shield. In the year 1943, THE MYSORE GYMKHANA, after defeating the City Gymkhana of Bangalore in the semi-final, lost to the Indian Gymkhana in the final played at Bangalore but in the following year, the club was successful in winning the shield defeating Central College in the Final played on Maharaja's College ground at Mysore. THE MYSORE GYMKHANA cricket team was successfully captained by M.L. Nanjaraj Urs and A.Sridharmurthy in those years and among the players who represented THE MYSORE GYMKHANA and contributed to its progress in those early years were M.B. Rama Rao, M.B. Vittal Rao, R.Gundu Rao, M.Rama Rao, Y.S. Ramaswamy, T.V.R.Rao, V.A. Kalman, V.A. Chandrashekar, S.Rama Rao, N.S. Parameshwar, V.R. Venkoba Rao, D. Raja Rao, B.R. Garudachar, G.K. Venkataram, P.R. Sitaram, B. Devaraj Urs, M.A.Singara Iyengar, M.R. Rajagopal, C. Srikantan, A.L. Lingaiah, C.Govindaraj, A.K.S. Naidu, R.K Bhagavan, T.A. Azeez, N.N. Kaushik, M.B. Channaraja Urs, K. G. Venkatesh, P. Alasingarachar, Narasimhamurthy, A.R. Satyan, S.S. Krishnamurthy, Chintamani, M. R. Krishnamurthy, M.S. Krishnaswamy, D.R. Prahlada Rao and others. Some of the Gymkhana players also represented the State in the Ranji Trophy matches. The well known cricketers, Charles Pichamuthu, Safi Darashah and C.J. Ramdev who were closely identified with Bangalore cricket graciously offered to play for the Gymkhana during the period of their official posting in Mysore.

The internationally well known cricketer Phiroze Palia also turned out for THE MYSORE GYMKHANA in some local match­es. A.S. Krishnaswamy a very good all-rounder and prolific scorer who played for Indian Railways narrowly missed representing the country. He played against the visiting West Indies team which consisted of the fearsome Roy Gilchrist. Along with him there were many others who made the grade like D.M. Engineer & M.R. Parthasarathy. Kumaraswamy who played for THE MYSORE GYMKHANA was a prolific run scorer and was popularly known as 'Compton Kumar' in cricketing circles.

In later years, S. Vijay Prakash and A.K.Raghu carried on the high traditions of the club by representing the State in Ranji Trophy games.

In addition to participating in tourna­ments the Club is actively involved in promot­ing the game by organising annual summer coaching camps for youngsters for the past eleven years.

Two members of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA, M.L.Nanjaraj Urs and M. Anantaswamy Rau took the first ever Cricket umpires Examinations conducted by the State Cricket Association in 1942 and both were successful. Later M.Anantaswamy Rau was elected to the first All-India Panel of Cricket Umpires of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1946 and he served on the panel for ten years before resigning in 1956. He officiated in many Ranji Trophy matches and in two Zonal matches against visiting teams from abroad: MCC of England at Poona in 1951 and New Zealand at Bangalore in 1955.

Besides cricket, THE MYSORE GYMKHANA was also actively associated with other games in the city. The Basket Ball section had many active members with Vyasa Rao, Anantaram, K.G.V. Krishna, B.L. Srikantiah, Subbanna, S.G. Parthasarathi, Narasimhiya, Rangaswamy, KG. Venkatesh, P.Alasingarachar and others. The Basket Ball team won a local tournament beating Maha­raja's College in the final in 1942.

The Football team had the benefit of advice from elders of the city. The football team efficiently captained by H.M. Nagaraja Rao participated in a local tournament and I well remember receiving the club's share of gate money for a match played on the Doddakere Maidan ground. The great A.C.Somanna of Calcutta football fame was also a member of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA.

The Tennis team participated in the local tournaments and inter-club matches and the team won the Shield in a tournament conduct­ed by the RBNTC in 1949 defeating the Cosmopolitan Club and Medical college re­spectively in the semi-fmal and final, prom­inent players being B.L. Rama Rao and Nanda Kumar who continuously represented the State for many years.

THE MYSORE GYMKHANA is credit­ed with the conduct of a Tennis tournament in 1952 which can be considered as a major event. It was named as the 'Festival of Tennis' where all the top players of South India took ­part and Ramanathan Krishnan who had become the National champion by then at the age of 16 was the Star attraction. He was an easy winner over the former champions and the citizens of Mysore got an opportunity to watch this prodigy in action. His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was the chief guest. This was a feather in the cap of late C.Srikantan who organised this show ably assisted by all members of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA. Mysore had never witnessed such a show of talent earlier.

The members of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA took active part in cultural activities of the city, particularly in the the­atre. With such well known artists like M.S. Cheluva Iyengar (the great Sampath of Cine fame), V.K.Srinivasan, Dr.A.M. Natesh, Dr. H.K. Ranganath, M.V.Krishnaswamy, N.V.K. Murthy, K.G.V.Krishna, M .E. Bharataraj Singh, C.B. Jaya Rao among its members, THE MYSORE GYMKHANA successfully staged plays on several occasions. One of the plays which attracted great attention was DUMB WIFE OF CHEAP SIDE. This play was also staged in a two-day festival at the Town Hall in July 1947. Earlier that year THE MYSORE GYMKHANA won the first prize in a drama competetion conduct­ed by the Karnataka Sangha.

Among the other social activities of (he club during the early 1940s were the farewell functions arranged in honour of Prof. J.C, Rollo of the Maharaja's College on his retirement (see photo) in 1942 and for Prof. Charles Picthamuthu on his relinquishing charge as the Registrar of Mysore University in 1943. A reception was hosted by Sardar K.Basavaraj Urs for the members of the club at his Mansion. A variety programme arranged by the club at the Mysore Town Hall in 1946 had Sir A.Ramaswamy Mudaliar Dewan of the State as the chief guest.

Throughout the years, THE MYSORE GYMKHANA received unstinted cooperation, from the authorities of the Maharaja's College with Principal J.C. Rollo evincing keen inter­est in the activities and progress of the club. The Department of Physical Education of the College provided all facilities, the use of the ground, equipment, services of ground staff etc. THE MYSORE GYMKHANA owes a deep debt of gratitude to the successive Di­rectors of Physical Education P.R. Krishnappa, A.Narayanaswamy, Y.S.Ramaswamy, B.L. Ramaswamy, Syed Mohammded Ahmed, Dayakara Raju, Muniswamy among others and the ground staff of Ramaiah (Sr), Chickaiah. Ramaiah (Jr.), Kalaiah and others in the earlier years and in later years from Directors Capt. H,Veeraraj Urs, Chickkavenkatappa. C, Krishna and Cricket coach V P. Mylevaghanam and their ground staff.

On being transferred form Mysore to Central College, Bangalore in 1951 and later having left the state in 1956, my active participation in the activities of the club came to an end, and the task of managing the club, in the meantime, having been taken over by such dedicated enthusiasts like Dr.N. Sanjeeva Rao, C. Srikantan and others. My interest in the welfare and progress of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA, however continues to have the highest priority. It is a matter of greatest satisfaction to me as well as to the enlightened citizens of the city that THE MYSORE GYMKHANA has progressed from strength to strength and in the Diamond Jubilee year the club can proudly acclaim its glorious role in promoting sporting activities of the city, particularly in cricket. The crowning achieve­ment which all can be proud of is the great heights to which one of its young members has reached, Javagal Srinath who has attained international recognition and fame as a bowler of highest class and who is now the deadiest weapon in the country's bowling arsenal. All glory to him and to THE MYSORE GYMKHANA.


A.S. Krishnaswamy - a profile

Ever since 1946, A.S.Krishnaswamy, the reputed cricketer, was a member of THE MYSORE GYMKHANA, for nearly a decade and a half, the golden years of his cricketing career. He was a student at the Sarada Vilas and D.Banumaiah's High Schools, Yuvaraja's (earlier known as First Grade College), St.Philomena's and Maharaja's Colleges.

Popularly known as 'ASK', he was admired as 'debonair' and 'crisis man' by his fans. He was a born cricketer and self styled. His cricketing abilities seemed to come to him naturally and it flowed in an uninhibited manner. Renown for his stroke making abilities, his batting was a treat to watch. He was a great crowd-puller and obviously their darling. He often responded to the crowd's shouts for sixers and duly obliged them soon after. There were two leg-break/googly bowlers in those days for the Mysore Gymkhana: one was the great Y. S. Ramaswamy himself and the other, ASK. He was a safe slip fieldsman too.

In the early 1950s, ASK represented the Mysore University (included the entire Mysore State in those days) for four years and scored centuries in every year. In 1952-53, he set a record 242 not out against the University of Madras, which was to be broken by Ajit Wadekar in the mid-sixties in the Rohinton Baria Trophy. In 1953-54, he led Mysore University to the final. In 1953-54, he led Mysore University to the final. In the same season, he was selected for the All India University team which played against the Silver Jubilee Overseas Cricket team, led by Leslie Ames at the Central College ground, Bangalore. Again in 1956-57, he represented the All India University team against New Zealand at Nagpur. ASK represented the Mysore State and took 4 for 58 against the Second Commonwealth Overseas team, which had Sir Frank Worrell in their ranks, at the RSI ground in Ban­galore.

ASK represented the State team (then known as Mysore) in the Ranji Trophy Championship from 1950 to 1960, with distinction. In 1958-59, he led Mysore through to the final. He also went on to play for the Railways under the captaincy of Lala Amarnath.

In 1958-59, ASK played for South Zone against the touring West Indies, which had Sobers, Hall, Gilchrist and Alexander, at the Central College ground, Bangalore, where his innings is remembered even today. He was hit on body by Hall and Gilchrist but showed tremendous courage and hit them all round during that scintillating knock. The touring Australians under Richie Benaud in 1960, ASK was among the reserves for the Kanpur, Delhi and Madras Test Matches.

After his glorious playing days were behind him, he served the Karnataka State Cricket Association as the Chairman of the State Selection Committee from 1984 to 1986. In 1991, the KSCA honoured this great cricketer from Mysore with the well deserved benefit match at K.G.F.

A.S.Krishnaswamy has done Mysore cricket proud, The Mysore Gymkhana happy and given immense joy to everyone with his delightful cricket and he will go down in history as a man, an unfortunate one, not to have represented India in Tests. A case of 'so near, yet so far'. But the sparkle of his cricketing genius will glow for ever in the minds of those fortunate ones who have seen him play, with that typical, rare natural flair.

~~This profile was compiled by T.R.Venkatesan [and K.R.Dinakar] for the TMG’s Golden Jubilee Souvenir.

Post Script:
Yours truly played against ASK on 18.3.1984 at the MCG when TMG had organized a get-together match against the past TMG veterans. He showed his skill and reflexes even at a not-so-young age! He bowled his leg breaks and I had the good opportunity to face a few of them. My just-for-change leg breaks that took 4 wickets was still no match for his natural style!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Y.S.Ramaswamy - tribute by Pachu

The Writer, Late M.N. Parthasarathy, [seen above in the foreground left in this rare album picture, sitting next to KM Subba Rao, yours truly on his left and brother between his laps] popularly known as Pachu or M.N.P. was an Assistant Professor of English in the University of Mysore. Earlier he was an Assistant Master at the Maharaja's High School Mysore. As teacher he encouraged his students to play cricket. He built a good team by sheer hard work. Pachu was also a renown radio cricket commentator, lived in Yadavgiri, Mysore.
As early as 1932 he identified a very good leg spin bowler at a local school and enticed him to join his school - the Maharaja's High School. That boy was
Y.S.Ramaswamy, M.N.P. was a benefactor, well-wisher. With his contacts at Bombay, M.N.P. provided Y.S. Ramaswamy to play for the 'Hindus'in the Quadrangular alongside the great C.S. Nayudu.

"YSR", as he was popularly known, has a unique and very rare record of capturing all twenty wickets in a match to which M.N.P was a witness to the actual event that took place at the Oval Grounds [Opposite Crawford Hall];
This article , reproduced below, was first published in 1972 for a souvenir for the occasion of the Ranji Trophy match between Mysore and Andhra at Mysore’s Maharaja’s College Grounds.


I am writing these words on the 'Saraswathi Puja-day' .And my mind nostalgically turns to a unique cricket event which took place nearly four decades ago. Before The Mysore State Cricket Association was formed (as a pan the Dasara Celebrations of Mysore), we used to have cricket tournament, for Seniors and High Schools.

High school teams from all over the State used to compete in the Tournament. This particular year - 1934, the Methodist Mission High School of Bangalore was meeting in Marimallappa's High School, Mysore, in the final.

The Marimallappa's High School was captained by Sri N. Krishnaswamy, the wellknown sports correspondent of Bangalore, and two of its members were the late Sri Y.S. Ramaswamy and Sri K. Thimmappaiah (now Dr. Captain Thimmappaiah) a live-wire of the State Association.

The scene of the final was the Mysore 'Oval' grounds. Ramaswamy was bowling from the District Office end, when the Methodist school completed its first innings all their ten wickets had been taken by Sri Y.S. Ramaswamy, who bowled wide back-of the hand leg-breaks. The Marimallappa's innings ended with a slight lead for them.
Then on the second day, the Methodists went in for their second innings. Sensation mounted. For every wicket that fell was going to the credit of Sri Y.S.R. 15, 16, 17, 18 wickets of the Methodists all fell to Y.S.R.

I sensed something of a world record was about to be created, and so watched the match from the Oriental Research Institute end. Not only was Y.S.R. breaking from the leg nearly two feet, the ball was also swerving in the air.
Tension mounted and history was created when all the ten wickets of the Methodists fell to Y.S.R. for a second time in the match.

Mr. William Pichumuthu, the sports secretary of the Methodists and Sri B.K. Ramaswamy of the team, sportingly congratulated Y.S.R. on his remarkable performance. This feat brought Y.S.R. into limelight and also to the notice of knowledgeable cricketers.

At this time Y.S.R. had only the legbreak as his chief and only weapon of attack. Under the guidance of well-wishers within 2 years he, developed the googly and the top-spinner too.

Now that he was fully equipped the first of lndia's full developed googly-cum-Ieg break bowler, he was able to get contacts with influential cricketers of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.

He toured Ceylon with the University Occasions under the Leadership of Wazir Ali and in the company of Vijay Merchant, P.E. Palia, D.R. Puri, Banerji, K. Bose, Pearson Surita, Berry Sarbhadikari and others. He was the bowler who took the highest number of wickets - 36 in all on the tour.

In this short sketch is not my intention to talk of Y.S.R.'s performances. His excellent work in the Quadrangular trials gave him a place in the Hindu's side of 1936 Quadrangular he was the first South Indian to get this honour. His performances in the Inter-Universities matches brought him under the notice of Prof. Deodhar and others. Playing for the Mylapore Recreation Club, Madras, he met the Venkata Ramanujular Brothers, Prof. C.K.K. Pillai, Sri C.R. Pattabhiraman, Sri G. Parthasarathi, Sri K.R.Ranga Rao, Sri M.J. Gopalan and Sri C. R. Rangachari and others.

Y.S.R. is remembered by all these people as a great sportsman and gentleman. Years later when I met commentators Devraj Puri and Berry Sarhhadikari they enquired of me as to how Y.S.R. was keeping. As for Merchant, he had special affection for the googly-bowler. When Y.S.R. was bedridden, Merchant was in Mysore on his way to Ooty, and would not leave the place without calling on Y.S.R.. When Merchant was commenting in last year's Ranji Trophy final, he mentioned Y.S.R. and his achievements.

The State Association every year conducts the Y.S.R. Memorial Tournament. Other cricketers have greater achievements to their credit. But few have the virtues Y.S.R. had - modesty, self-effacement, interest of the team first and foremost above all a genuine anxiety to see other cricketers got their due.

Later as a responsible sports officer he tried to see that every young sportsman got the best opportunity. I wish that the Y.S.R. memorial inspires cricketers to emulate the attitudes to Y.S.R. towards cricket and life.

One more reason for my writing this short article remains to be mentioned. In Y.S.R's time, no state team went without some Mysore City boys being in it - sometimes we had even 3 or 4 of them representing the State.

But in the last decade, there has not been one cricketer earning his place in the State team. Nay, often there is not even one representative even in the Association Eleven.

I hope, the present Ranji Trophy tie being played here, will inspire young Mysore Cricketers, to rise to heights of achievements to earn their place in the State Eleven and what is more grow to be Y.S.R.'s in their attitude to cricket and life.

Author of the blog adds:
One K.B.Srinivasa Rao [a colleague, a great cricket lover and himself a leg-spin bowler in his younger days] told me that he as a young boy came to watch YS Ramaswamy at the Maharaja's College Ground nets, standing behind it. From there he could watch how the ball swerved in the air and then spun after pitching. Just like him, many other people used to come and watch YSR bowl.
Prof.Ananthaswami Rau told me an incident about the generosity of YSR. Once for a league cricket match YSR was supposed to attend/play for The Mysore Gymkhana, but in order to give a chance to some one (forgot name) who otherwise would have sat out the game, he deliberately did not turn up at the ground. YSR wanted that man to play.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

TMG Trekking

At the Pukat Lake
Another shot of the TMG trekkers manoeuvering the slope - on our return route we hit this path unknowingly. When we all got down, it was a great feeling, not so when we stood at the top before the climb down!

This is the actual angle of the slope. It may look "only that much?" but one has to look down standing at the top to believe the steepness.

This was the steep rocky slope for nearly a hundred feet that was so

breathtaking to climb down. Even a small slip of the feet would have proved very dangerous - look at the depth. Murali Mohan 'puffs up' followed by more 'puffers and panters' Subramamian and Dinakar following him.

Beautiful waterfall in a nice secluded place. Rocky and infested with leeches.

Murali Mohan, Subramanian and Dinakar trek across a scenic path.


TMG contingent in front of the house where we halted for the night, with the resident family.

TMG Pictorial Tour, recent

TMG Pictorial Tour - Vintage

TMG organized a "Festival of Tennis" at Cosmopolitan Club Courts in 1950. Author's sportsman grandfather KM Subba Rao, who was already a veteran tennis player is seen with the striped Mysore Sports Club's blazer. Also, author's uncle is seen standing top row 2nd from right. Ramanathan Krishnan who became the first Indian Wimbledon semi-finalist - probably in 1955 - is seen as in caption to the photo. Also in the same row is C.Srikantan. Many notable personalities are in this picture. Maharaja's College dome can be observed in the background. C.Srikantan with his arms on resting on other's shoulders. TMG's tour ourside Mysore. Location to be known.

Another picture with C.Srikantan seated third from right. TMG's tour ourside Mysore. Location to be identified.

TMG with the Raja of Venkatagiri, 1950s. C.Srikantan seated to the right of the Raja with hat on lap.

Picture above was taken in 1942 in front of the old pavilion of the Maharaja's College Cricket Ground on the occasion when TMG hosted a farewell to Prof. J.C.Rollo, Principal of Maharaja's College. Here are some identified faces in this vintage picture which is a proud possession of Prof.Rau. He kindly gave a recopy to the author in 2005 after telling all these names which were duly noted down. Some are left blank with a "?". Readers may fill them up if they happen to identify.

Sitting (l-r)
MN Parthasarathy [Pachu], PG Sathyagirinathan, CB Jaya Rao, N.Parameshwaran, A.Sridharamurthy, CS Pitchamuthu, Prof.JC Rollo (with his pet dog), Sirdar K.Basavaraj Urs, KM Subba Rao [author's grandfather], A.Gopalarathnam, M.Ananthaswamy Rau, A.Narayanaswamy, Vyasa Rao

Standing 1st Row
Chintamani, AG Narasimhan, PA Char, ??, TA Aziz, HM Nagaraja Rao, AN Subramaniam, S.Krishnamurthy, VA Chandar, AC Somanna, BS Keshavan, A.Sambamurthy, MS Cheluvarajiengar (Sampathu of the film fame), TV Ramachandra Rao

Standing 2nd Row
AR Sathyanarayan, GK Venkataram, Shama Rao, ??, Bhagawan, MR Rajagopal, ??, BR Garudachar, ?? MA Singriengar, C.Govindaraj, C.Srikantan

Back Row
KGV Krishna, ??, V.Nagaraj Rao, Narasimhaiya, YS Ramaswamy, BL Ramaswamy, ??, Syed Mohd. Ahmed, GR Seshadri, ??
Prof.M.Ananthaswamy Rau, TMG's first Secretary, 1941.
[Picture taken by author in 2006, in front of his residence in Lakshmipuram, Mysore]
Prof. Rau is fond of saying "I am as old as the Mysore University", having been born in 1916.

THE MYSORE GYMKHANA - historical sketch

THE MYSORE GYMKHANA - a thumbnail historical sketch

[Written in April 2003. Published in Star of Mysore and Deccan Herald in July 2003]

Auspicious beginning 

One of Mysore's typical cultures is the "katte culture". A "katte" is usually a stone bench where a group of people sit, relax and chat on all topics under the sun and spend the evening. Such places are often birthplaces of amazing things. The scene is from 1936 and the venue, the stone steps of the University Union building (now housing the Graduate Library) in the Maharaja's College Campus. The group of people in this case, were enthusiastic sportsmen with multifarious talents feeling the need for a regular club where they could join together and hone them. What t ranspired from a discussion there one fine evening was the formation of a club which was eventually named as THE MYSORE GYMKHANA (TMG). M.Ananthaswami Rau, now 87, was witnessing that historic discussion. The lamp had been lit.

[This is the very 'katte' where it all began - pictured in 2006]

Responsible menThis write-up will not do full justice to the responsible men who were instrumental in putting invaluable oil to the TMG lamp, if they are left unnamed. Eminent people like CMH Ranajodh Singh, Col.DCN Bahadur, FC Devaraj Urs, A Lingaraj Urs, KM Subba Rao (author's grandfather), VK Srinivasan, MN Parthasarathy (Pachu, who later became a commentator), BS Kesavan, A Narayanaswamy, A Sambamurthy, et al, who were all elder sportspersons and patrons who guided the young group of enthusiastic sportspersons who set the TMG-ball rolling. Sirdar K. Basavaraj Urs consented to be the President and chief patron while CB Jaya Rao, (who was active both in the theatre and sports circles) was acting as the Secretary. At that time, the members were using a ground for their activities where the Crawford Hall now stands. That ground, a part of the vast Gordon Park, was under the control of the Maharaja's College and the then Principal, Prof. J.C. Rollo a great sports-lover himself and a great patron of TMG, had been gracious to permit use of that ground. Prof. Rollo was also the State Cricket Association's first President. (The Maharaja's College/Mysore University have been, even to this day, extending its helping hand to TMG in maintaining that old legacy.)Rau, the living witnessThough the activities of TMG had begun in 1936, it was only on June 24, 1941, that the first GBM was held and the bye-laws were newly constituted. M.Ananthaswami Rau (now 87 and standing as straight as ever) was formally elected as the Secretary. In 1946, Rau was successful in the first ever Cricket Umpires examinations conducted by the state cricket association. (ML Nanjaraj Urs was the other member who held that distinction). Mr. Rau went on to officiate many first class cricket matches later on and was in the all-India panel for a decade. He was one of those much respected gentleman-umpires.

Early Activities
In its formative years, the club's main focus was on Cultural activities (drama/theatre). TMG has won several awards in that circle and participated in various drama competitions. Popular games like Tennis, Basket ball, Football, Hockey, Cricket and Ball Badminton were also encouraged. In 1952, a 'Festival of Tennis' was conducted and a young Ramanathan Krishnan (Wimbledon semi-finalist) was the champion of the event. C.Srikantan (who later became President of TMG) organized the show successfully. HH Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was the chief guest. A unique sandalwood tennis raquet containing a scroll was presented to His Highness.Cricket talent

As years rolled by, Cricket, with its great popularity, began to dominate the activities of TMG. Over the decades, TMG had the good fortune of having been represented by noted and talented cricketers. Just to name a few, Phiroze Palia (toured England in the historic tours of 1932 and 1936 and played for India in two Test Matches), Safi Darashah (who had the distinction of bowling the first ever ball in Ranji Trophy, in 1934), Charles Pitchamuthu,C .J Ramdev , AS Krishnaswamy (narrowly missed playing for India) and DM Engineer had represented the erstwhile Mysore State in the Ranji Trophy. In recent times, S.Vijayprakash and AK Raghu represented Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy. But Javagal Srinath went even higher than all others and played 67 Tests (so far) and over 200 ODIs for India. If those are the ones who succeeded in going higher, there have been several very talented ones who could not do so. Nonetheless, they are all stars in their own right and rare jewels studding the TMG crown.

"Combined XI" - Tennis Ball Cricket Team
Tennis ball cricket had become popular in the 1960s and many members of the TMG, esp. the younger bunch had taken to it. It was usually played on the streets as well as in a small open space that was available behind the "Mission School" situated in the corner of the Vani Vilas Road - Geeta Road intersection. Cricket with the tennis ball demands high skill. Many of the members had become exponents in fielding, batting and bowling, which was proved by the fact that this team under the name of "Combined XI" (almost an off-shoot of TMG) was nearly unbeatable in the tournaments and the 'friendly' matches that took place in great abundance. It is said that people used to come and watch this team in action. Such was the level of cricket! Tennis ball cricket, being easily affordable, compared to the real version, helped keep up the interest among the members. This interest and skill in unison, got automatically carried over to the real version of the game.Re-climb to the pinnacleThere are always ups and downs in any success story and TMG's is no exception. There was a time in the 1960s and early 1970s when TMG's performances had slumped for various reasons. But slowly and calmly, it regained composure and stood up to face the challenges again from the platform of the 5th division in the State league in 1975-76. In the meantime, TMG had found a new place (popularaly known as 'old NIE') for conducting its cricket practice sessions. On 31.12.1970, Capt. H.Veeraraj Urs, the then Director, Physical Education Dept. of the Mysore University inaugurated the new practice wicket by bowling the first ever ball there. This important facility provided a great impetus and henceforth, there was a steady upsurge in its spirit and stature while talent became abound, quite naturally. As quickly as 1977, TMG had risen to the 4th division. By 1984, through consistent performances and perseverance, it reached the pinnacle, ready to take on the best teams in the first division. It did so admirably well and showed the opponents in the state league its real worth. In 1989-90, The KSCA reorganized its format and the new zonal basis of the league came into force.Recent achievementsIn the new zonal format (since 1989-90), TMG has so far been impervious in the first division (Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Shield) in the Mysore Zone. It is proved by the fact that it has been winning every time till 2002-2003, a truly remarkable feat. In the prestigious M.Gopalswamy Memorial Tournament, TMG has been a frequent 'finalist' over the years, having won it a number of times in the past. It is now the present holder of this shield too. Such a highly sustained performance also brings to limelight, the team-spirit, hard work and sincere efforts that the players put in under the eagle-eye supervision of TMG's vice-president, C.S.Subramaniam and other dedicated senior members. In the year 2000, the KSCA organized a "Champions Trophy" for the winners of the 6 zones of the state who challenged the top 2nd division teams of Bangalore Zone. TMG beat them all and won that as well.Cricket toursBeing one of the oldest clubs in the state and also TMG's high reputation earned over the decades have been great factors in getting invitations to participate in various recognized tournaments. In 1952, TMG toured Vijayawada on invitation from the Raja of Venkatagiri and played matches there. In recent years, it has participated in prestigious All-India and State level tournaments like the City Union Bank trophy at Kumbakonam (Runner-up twice), Lakshman Memorial at Kochi, Basavangudi Cup and YSR Memorial at Bangalore, YSCA Tournament at Chennai, St.Peter's Trophy at Kodaikanal and other tournaments at Ilkal, Hubli, Hassan and Chickmagalur.Playing hostTMG has proved to be a good host too, almost by tradition. It has the privilege of having successfully hosted teams from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Australia (thrice). In 1989, it conducted the inaugural cricket tournament in memory of the great Safi Darashah, a distinguished member. This is now conducted by the KSCA annually on a higher scale. In 1996, TMG successfully organized an all-India tournament to commemorate its Diamond Jubilee. Then, to commemorate the turn of the last century, with an intent to provide match-opportunities to the under-12/14 boys, it successfully conducted the Y2K Tournament.

Tapping talent
Speaking of tapping young and raw talent almost from nowhere, TMG organizes Summer Coaching Camps for the under-16 boys and the most talented ones are rewarded with 'scholarships'. It has been doing so for the last 19 years. It was in one such recent camp that MR Darshan (represented Vijaya Cricket Club) was attending. He went on to play for India at Sharjah in the under-15 World Cup in 2002.A team to reckon withThe name and fame achieved by The Mysore Gymkhana in cricketing circles speaks volumes of its whole-hearted and sincere efforts to promote the cause of cricket. TMG has been providing gracious encouragement and vistas to its players while keeping the 'spirit of cricket in its true form' very alive. Ever since its inception, history shows that there was no dearth for cricketing talent. TMG was and always has been a team, considered by the opponents as 'one to reckon with'. The still-in-vogue "katte culture" seems to have automatically inculcated team-spirit, a feeling of oneness, a sense of belonging and a family atmosphere, all so essential in any team game to thrive. That probably is the hidden secret of the TMG success story. Let the lamp, lit 67 years ago, keep glowing as brightly as ever and bring laurels to the great game that cricket is.

Post script:

Team spirit - it was an important factor for making this unit such a successful one for such a long time. In my honest opinion and personal experience, it was the "katte culture", that was responsible in bonding players together. The players knew each other well because they spent so much time together at the "Katte" (the one still in vogue, at Gita Road in Chamarajapuram).