Saturday, January 21, 2006

MCC/Chepauk memories...

Been a regular at the Madras Cricket Club (MCC) over the years - thanks to R & S. When I was younger, a summer vacation trip to Madras would be incomplete without a lunch/dinner at the MCC; much like the trip to see KMama and KMayi (which I'll save for another blog-post). Went there for a lazy lunch last week, and it brought back fond memories.

My first impressions of the Chepauk were formed during the 1987 World Cup match, which India narrowly lost to Australia. One of the lasting memories of that game had the Aussies walking off after winning the match, their whites/off-whites caked with the brownish black mud. Made me wonder if they played on grass or in what I then used to call (in typical Mumbaiya Hindi) keechad!

The club used to be filled with snaps of various cricketers who had graced many a party hosted there. I do remember seeing photographs of the various Windies touring teams, but sadly they seem to have disappeared (along with the Calypso kings). The odd photo of a Viv Richards and Sobers partying away in the club are still to be seen though.

One of the most unforgettable matches I witnessed was the 2001 test against Australia, where the Indians just about scraped home to win the series. Tendulkar has always had a decent run at the Chepauk, and the collective gasp around the ground when he mistimed the ball in the air in the direction of Michael Slater, followed by the sigh of relief when Slater put the chance down still rings clear in my head. The end of the test was however watched safely ensconed in the safety of my drawing room!

The other match I watched at the Chepauk was largely forgettable - the ODI between India and England in 2002. It was nice to sit in the Clubhouse, right next to the players and watch the game. Ganguly sat out the match (nothing new about that, isnt it!), and I dont think I'll see him in action ever! And oh yes, Gower gave me the royal miss again! Did manage to snag an autograph from one Ian Terence Botham though.

It's been interesting to see folks like Venkat, Robin Singh, WV Raman, Badani and few others relaxing in the club in the evenings. But what's been a much more joyous experience is imagining the innings/games that have been played here.

Sachin vs. Warne, thats how the series was built up in the spring of 1998 when the Aussies toured India. Despite college being a stone's throw from the Brabourne Stadium, I had to give the match between the Aussies and Bombay a miss - and thats where ST scored his first double century in first-class cricket. It was a precursor to what lay in store at the Chepauk, where he bludgeoned the Aussies into submission. Warney bowling outside the leg-stump only to be swatted away for a boundary by ST - that's one of the memories I have of that innings!

An innings I havent seen (not even on TV), but something everyone raves about was the 97* GRViswanath made against the Windies in 1974-75. For its sheer brilliance (and people still rave about it) it was also ranked #3 among the top 10 innings played by an Indian batsmen ever.

The tied test will forever be remembered in 2 snapshots - one of Greg Matthews absolutely cock-a-hoop after trapping Maninder Singh lbw, and the other of a very dehydrated Dean Jones enroute to his double century! But just imagine the guts Deano displayed, and who can forget the valiant attempt the Indians made chasing down 348 in a day's play!

And last but not the least, a silent tribute to the television tower keeping a watchful eye over the Chepauk!

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