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Monday, February 6, 2023

welcoming the famous Sardar to SYMA Childfest 2023

5th Feb 2023 was a memorable day .. .. in walked a tall majestic Sardar !! – I was delighted,  I vividly remember seeing him whacking the ball at Marina ground decades ago !! 

* The Ceylon cricket team toured India in 1964 -  Ceylon (Sri Lanka)  did not then have Test status, played three four-day unofficial Tests  and some first class matches. 

More than 2500 kms away is the historic Ramdaspur, better known as Amritsar,   a major cultural, transportation and economic centre, located in the Majha region of Punjab. Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal situated here  is believed to be the Ashram site of Maharishi Valmiki, the writer of Ramayana.   Lava and Kusha were born  at Ramtirath ashram.  Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh guru founded  the holy city of Amritsar in the Sikh tradition.   Amritsar is home to Sri Harmandir Sahib, "the Golden Temple", Sikhism’s  most spiritually significant and most-visited gurudwara. 

It would be a delight for the Quiz Master to ask, when and where was the first ever Ranji match played ?  On 4th Nov 1934, the very first match of the premier tournament was played at Chepauk between Madras and Mysore. In the inaugural season there were 15 teams. Bombay defeated Northern India in the final.   M. J. Gopalan of Madras bowled the first ball to N. Curtis.  

Name your favourite Cricketer from Tamil Nadu – one would be inclined to say – S. Venkatraghavan, VV Kumar, TE Srinivasan,   Krishnamachari Srikkanth, L Sivaramakrishnan, Thirumalai Ananthanpillai Sekar, Robin Singh, WC Raman, Sadagoppan Ramesh, VB Chandrasekar,  Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, L Balaji, Ravichandran Ashwin, add more – Michael Dalvi, V Sivaramakrishnan, Barathkukmar, B Arun, Barathreddy, Narayan Jegadesan .. .. .. and there is this family of Sardars, who perhaps have a playing X1 of their own !! – the AG Singhs   a family from Amritsar that migrated to Madras in 1904 and went on to be the first family of Tamil Nadu cricket for over six decades.  When Kripal and Milkha played together for India against England in 1961-62, it was the first instance of three players from Tamil Nadu (the third being Vaman Kumar) being in the national playing XI.  

That lanky smart Saradar was no ordinary person  - he was a Corporate leader with decades of experience in Lucas TVS – who held top marketing assignments and retired as Executive Director, yet this post is not about the academic accomplishments of graduate from Madras Engineering College.  

The Man – AG Satwinder Singh, son of more illustrious father AG Ram Singh  

AG Ram Singh would rank among the  unluckiest cricketers in the history of Indian cricket. Despite herculean deeds in the Ranji Trophy for well over a decade, he never represented the country in official Tests and played in just two unofficial `Tests' against Jack Ryder's team in 1935-36 and Lord Tennyson's side two years later.  He had to his credit the  double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Ranji having played only  27 Ranji Trophy matches in all,   spread over 14 successive seasons.  

Those of us following TN Cricket have heard of the family :  AG Ram Singh – his sons AG Ram Singh, AG Kripal Singh, AG Milkha Singh, AG Satwinder Singh – Kripal’s son Swaran Kripal and Arjan Kripal and daughter Malavika !!   

AG Ram Singh  was a part of the Madras team that took on Mysore in the very first Ranji Trophy match, played in Chennai in 1934.  Part would be a misnomer, for he took 11 wickets in that game that did not last even the full first day.   He ran a sports goods shop on Wallajah Road.   In that first Ranji match between Madras and Mysore played at Chepauk on 4th Nov 1934, Madras won by an innings and 23 runs .. ..  Ram Singh had dream figures of 13.2-7-19-6  &  14.3-4-16-5  !!  

The special Guest on our podium studied  in  the Guindy Engineering College and played under S Venkataraghavan.  A century against Mysore for which BS Chandrasekhar was the key and some good knocks earned him Ranji debut  at age  17, alongside his elder brothers Milkha and Kripal Singh in 1963.  An year later against Hyderabad that had Abbas Ali Baig and ML Jaisimha he had a 5 wicket haul.    

Satwinder’s most memorable perhaps would be his chance playing for  All India Universities team against the touring team from Ceylon in Dec  1964.  Legendary Bishan Singh Bedi was the 12th man and the Universities were tottering  having lost 6 wickets.  Satwinder had a century partnership with Ambar Roy.  .. .. but he faded later, more so due to the injury to his leg arising out of a scooter accident in Wallaja road.   Years alter in 1969 in his only Duleep match against East Zone, he had a half century partnership with Pataudi.    He was part of the Tamil Nadu team that played in Ranji finals in 1973.   

He ended up making 2726 Ranji runs  with 4 tons and good average of 39.50, took 47 catches and 29 wickets too. 

His brother AG Milkha Singh, a left hander played for the Nation  against Australia in Chennai, just days after his 18th birthday, and played three further Tests.  He was the first to score a ton in Duleep trophy.   

Around 116 players have hit a century in debut in Tests, of which 16 are Indians,  Satwinder’s eldest brother,  the late AG Kripal Singh, a right-hand batsman and offspinner,  played Test cricket for India (14 Tests between 1955 and 1964, and scored an unbeaten 100 on debut against New Zealand in Hyderabad.  

The family tradition continued to the next generation too with son of Kripal Singh, Swran Kripal and Arjan representing the State, while daughter Malvika too represented the State.  Arjan Kripal and WV Raman made 300 apiece against Goa in a Ranji match.  Offie  Sarandeep Singh is also a relative of this clan.  Another cousin Harjinder played for the Railways and Tamil Nadu. 

Srinivas Youngmens Association conducted Child Fest 2023 – 6 competition for school children on 4th & 5th of Feb 2023 at Triplicane NKT Girls High School – around 3000 children participated.  Mr AG Satwinder Singh was the guest of honour and distributed the prizes.  

Yours Truly compered the Prize Distribution function and had the opportunity of introducing the illustrious Satwinder, waxing eloquently on the facts and figures of the family’s accomplishments on the Cricket field. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Feb 2023.



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