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Saturday, January 1, 2022

double International from Chennai - clan of Buchibabu Naidu

Prescript :  An article which Cricket fans would relish .. .. .. while some of my friends may comment back stating too much of wastage of time in digging deep !! 

A few decades ago – We relished following Test Matches, One dayers, Duleep trophy, Deodhar trophy, Ranji matches; MJ Gopalan trophy, Hindu trophy  and .. .. annual Buchi Babu tournament  – remember that in our school days have seen so many matches of Buchibabu  tournament (generally during Avani Avittam) – in mid 1970s and early 1980s, the matches were played in Chepauk, Marina and University Union.  They were  3 day matches – and teams like SBI, Mafatlal (later Nirlans), Karnataka, Hyderabad played (some point of team there was team from New Zealand too)....... I remember seeing Krish Srikkanth hoisting Hoshidhar Contractor for a straight six – on another day closer to lunch, after a beautiful cover drive and one straight down, Cheeka pulling Sandhu in the hands of a lone fielder ........ and we all parting the ground sadly.  Apart from TN stars S. Venkatraghavan, Dalvi, Belliappa, TE Srinivasan, Kalyanasundaram, Mukund,  R Vasudevan, Arunkumar, Bharatkumar, Cheeka, VB Chandrasekhar, V Siva, CS Sureshkumar, B Arun, WV Raman - some of the players that we saw at Marina would include:  Parthasarathi Sharma, Brijesh Patel, Kirmani, Rajinder Hans, Eknath Solkar, Ashok Mankad, Jyoti Prasad, Ramnarayan, K Jayanthilal, Shivlal Yadav, Dhiraj Parsanna, Sandhu, Ghavri .... and more ..... the tournament obviously has fallen to lesser grade in the days of IPL. Those days it was dominated by teams from Bombay and Ashok Mankad was hailed a shrewd leader bringing in youngsters, who went on to become popular later (Lalchand Rajput, Hattangadi, Jignesh Sanghani, Contractor ....)


Mothavarapu Buchi Babu Naidu  after whom the tourney was named was a pioneer and his sons M.Baliah Naidu and C. Ramaswami, played for the Indian national cricket team.  M Baliah Naidu was a lefthanded medium-paced bowler and a stylish left hander who earned the tag "Madras Woolley" of the pre-war period. He represented the Hindus in the Bombay quadrangular and led Madras against Bombay in the final of the second edition of the Ranji Trophy.Madras comprised four of today's states: Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala.

Here are some of the great names of persons who played Test Cricket from India – hailing from Madras :  MJ Gopalan (1934);  Cotah Ramaswami (1936); C. R. Rangachari (1948); C. D. Gopinath (1951); A. G. Kripal Singh (1955); AG  Milkha Singh (1960); Vaman Kumar (1961)&S. Venkataraghavan (1965)

The first among these, Morapakkkam Josyam Gopalan (1906-2003) was a Triplicanite – and was a double-international.  He bowled the first delivery in Ranji history in that inaugural match in 1934 when Madras played Mysore.  He debuted for the Nation against England at Calcutta in 1934.   In 1936 he was selected in the hockey team for the Berlin Olympics and the cricket team to tour England. It was known beforehand that Gopalan would have a small role to play in the England tour because of the presence of Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh. Still he chose the latter, which perhaps hurt his career.  The hockey team captained by Dhyan Chand, one of the finest teams in the history of the sport, won the gold medal with little difficulty. As it turned out, Gopalan did not play a Test in England. The tour was marred by internal politics and the team returned in disgrace.

Do you know the Captain of Madras in that inaugural Ranji match 1934 ?

The next person in that list was as colourful.  Cotah Ramaswami too was a double international, represented India in Cricket and Tennis.   Cota Ramaswami was the youngest son of Buchibabu Naidu but was given on adoption which explains his different family name. 

He studied in Presidency college. On one occasion while at Wesley school, he put on more than 200 runs for the last wicket to win a match after his team was 50 for nine, himself scoring 188*.He joined Cambridge University in 1919 and was a good sportsman there.  In 1922, Ramaswami represented India in the Davis Cup with Dr. A. H. Fyzee and A. A. Fayzee. India defeated Romania in the first round at Bristol but lost to Spain in Beckenham. Ramaswami played only in the doubles partnering Dr. Fayzee and won both his matches. The Spanish pair of Comte de Gomar and Flaquer, whom they beat in five sets, went on to play the doubles finals at Wimbledon in 1923. In 1922, Ramaswami took part in Wimbledon, reaching the second round. In 1923 he won the singles title at the South of England Championships defeating Gordon Lowe in the final in three sets.

Ramaswami returned to Madras in January 1924 and joined the Agricultural Department as an Officer. He served in different parts of the Madras Presidency in the next 24 years.As a professor of agronomy at University of Madras, he taught M. S. Swaminathan both agriculture and cricket.His two appearances in Test matches came in England in 1936 when he was already 40. After the end of his playing career, he served as a selector, and manager to the Indian team to West Indies in 1952–53. His Ramblings of a Games Addict is one of the earliest autobiographies in Indian cricket.  His son  Ram Swarup represented Madras and Andhra in first class cricket.

His end was sad .. .. he reportedly went away from his house in Adyar in1985 and was not seen later – Wisden listed him as ‘presumed dead’ !! 

M.V Bobjee A grandson of Buchi Babu Naydu ,  and the second son of M.Bhatt was proficient in Tennis ,Cricket and Golf and represented Six different states in Ranji trophy .His Double century before lunch at Secunderabad is still a  record!!

In the first season of Ranji in 1934-35 there were 15 teams in four zones in a knock-out format.  Bombay won the title defeating Northern India.  The first match featured Madras and Mysore.  Madras was captained by CP Johnstone.  Conrad Powell Johnstone CBE ( was an English businessman who afer  serving in the First World War, spent much his working life in India. He was a noted golfer as well as the President of Kent County Cricket Club in later life.   After resigning his Army commission in May 1919, Johnstone returned to Pembroke College, Cambridge, studying law.  After graduating Johnstone was employed by a liquor manufacturer in Calcutta and then for a number of years by Burmah Shell in Madras as a manager.  He played for Kent and later  for the Europeans and for Madras Cricket Club. He captained Madras in the inaugural Ranji Trophy in 1934.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th Dec 2021.
Photos : 

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