Monday 4 March 2013

The ground with a history

There are few grounds in Karnataka that have a history which is more ancient than this. The dateline of this ground is as old and as hoary as the institution  after which it is named.
However, over the last year or so, the ground has become the centre of controversy all because of a plan to change the nature of its land use.
What many forget is that this is not only a ground that also hosted cricket matches but it is also the place where a historic event on the unification of  Karnataka was held here.
The many provinces that were earlier part of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were merged with Karnataka in the reorganisation of states and the function to mark this event was for the first  time was held at this very ground here in Bangalore on November 1, 1956.
The inauguration was attended by a galaxy of who is who of State and national leaders, including the then President of India, Babu Rajendra Prasad, Chief Minister of erstwhile Msyore State, Kengal Hanumanthaiah, and Governor and last Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar.
This was the first official function after the reorganisation of states. A few old timers, some of them residing in Basavanagudi and Cantonment, still remember the function and speak glowingly of the simple yet effective speech of Rajendra Prasad and Hanumanthaiah.
They also remember that the grounds played host to a variety of cricket matches,-school, University, Ranji, Zonal, first class and touring matches. The grounds were part of one of the oldest colleges of Bangalore –the Central College. They thus came to be known as Central College Grounds.
It was at the Central College Grounds that the first ever Rajoyotsava celebrations were held. It was also at this ground that cricket lovers gathered in large numbers to watch al categories of matches. They still remember the first footfalls of  Varadaraj, L.T. Subbu, L. T. Adisesh, Balaji Srinivasan (who played in an unofficial Test for India), Kunjumani V.Subramanyam, Kasturirangan, G. R. Vishvanath, Brijesh Patel, A.V. Jayaprakash, Syed Kirmani, B. S. Chandrashekar E. A. S. Prasanna, Vijayakrishna, Sudhakar Rao, Sadanand Visvanath, Raghuram Bhat and others who played here and went on to represent the State.
There are still people who remember having seen the great C K, Nayadu in action at this very ground along with his brother C S Nayadu. CK’s very presence drew a big crowd and he was then well past 70 years of age. Another big draw here was Lala Amarnath.
One incident that is still very well remembered in cricket circles is that of the tear away fast bowler Roy Gilchrist bowling to A S Krishnaswamy on a first class match. The ball reared up on the pitch and hit Krishnaswamy on his chest and sped away to the boundary.
Not many remember Krishnaswamy today. AKS, as he was popularly known was from Mysore, and in 1953-54, he represented the All India University team which played a game against the Silver Jubilee Overseas Cricket team which was led by Leslie Ames at the Central College Grounds.
AKS represented Mysore State when they took on the second Commonwealth Overseas team at the RSI Grounds in Bangalore, AKS bowled a tidy length and had figures of  4 for 58 against the Commonwealth team, which had Sir Frank Worrell in their ranks.
ASK also represented Mysore State in Ranji from 1950 to 1960. It was in 1958-59, that he led Mysore to the final. He also went on to play for the Railways under the captaincy of Lala Amarnath.
The story of the fast ball from Gilchrist was when he played for South Zone in a touring game in 1959 against West Indies. The West Indies then had Garfield Sobers, Wesley Hall, Roy Gilchrist and Alexander.
The match at the Central College Grounds, drew large crowds and AKS’s innings is remembered even to this day. He was repeatedly hit on body by Hall and Gilchrist who bowled in tandem but AKS hit back with tremendous courage.
Of course, who can forget  the fast bowling of G Kasturirangan. He was selected to represent India but could not join as he had to look after his father who had become ill.  
The history of this ground could perhaps only be matched by the university ground in Mysore and a handful of others in the State. The question that begs an answer is why Bangalore University is bent on building an indoor stadia with an underground car park at this very Ground.
Why not preserve and protect it as it is.    

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