Saturday, September 19, 2009 , Posted by D S Gurung at 11:12 AM

The game of cricket was introduced in India in the middle of the 18th century. On 3rd March 1845 the ‘Sporting Intelligence’ magazine carried a reasonably lengthy match report between ‘Sepoy’ cricketers and the European ones. The article clearly proved that Indian cricket was underway in a city called Sylhet, in modern day Bangladesh.

An impressed reporter proudly stated “the most enthusiastic European Cricketers could not have played with more energy and cheerfulness than the Sepoys did”.

However, chroniclers of cricket unanimously suggest that the formation of ‘Parsi Oriental Cricket Club’ in Bombay in the year 1848 led to the start of organized cricket by the Indians.

Parsi cricket

The first Indians to take to the game were the Parsis of Bombay, an educated, well-to-do and progressive community. In 1848, the Parsi boys established the ‘Oriental Cricket Club’.

The emerging Parsi middle class supported cricket as a means of strengthening ties with the overlords, while intellectuals welcomed it as a renewal of physical energy for the race. Around thirty Parsi clubs were formed in the within two decades of the formation of the first club. They were named for British viceroys and statesmen and for Roman gods.

Hindu cricket

The Hindu’s took up the game of cricket with the primary reason that they did not want to fall behind the Parsis in any manner. The first Hindu club ‘Bombay Union’ was formed in 1866. Hindus started playing cricket due to social and business rivalry with the Parsis. Hindu cricketers sorted themselves on the lines of caste and region of origin.

One of the primary Hindu cricketer was Ramchandra Vishnu Navlekar.
Some of the main clubs were Gowd Saraswat Cricket Club, Kshatriya Cricket Club, Gujrati Union Cricket Club, Maratha Cricket Club, Teluu Youn Cricketrs etc.

“There is no more agreeable sight to me,” remarked the Mayor of Bombay in 1886, “than of the whole Maidan overspread by a lot of enthusiastic Parsi and Hindu cricketers, keenly and eagerly engaged in this manly game.”


The all-white Bombay Gymkhana, which even refused admission to Ranji, was established in 1875. The Europeans invited the Parsis to paly with them for the first time in 1877. This more or less became a regular feature though it was a decade before the Parsis’ eventually managed to win. Beginning from 1886, the Hindus also began playing an annual match with the Europeans.

With the efforts of Luxmani and Tyebjee families, also famous for their social work such as establishing schools and good work at the law courts, the Muslims had also set up their own cricket club in 1883. This was known as the Muslim Cricket Club.

Cricket in India got a huge impetus by the formation of Parsi, Hindu and Muslim Gymkhanas in the 1890s. The British allotted one plot each to the three major religious communities in the city, for their exclusive use ending their conflict with the colonizers.

Ranjit Singhji

A notable mention in this era is the vital contribution of the Black Prince, Prince Ranjit Singhji who had moved to England to study at Cambridge University and was given a cricket “blue” in his final year by the college.

He then went on to play county cricket for Sussex. He made his Test debut for England in 1896. This made him the first Indian to play Test cricket.
Ranjit Singhji was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1897. He scored a century in the second innings on his Test debut, making his only the second batsman for England to achieve this feat. Duing the year 1899 he amassed 2,780 runs during a season which was the highest aggregate ever made!

India’s most prestigious first-class cricket tournament – Ranji Trophy was named after him in order to honour this great cricketer.

The Bombay Quadrangular

It started as a contest between the Parsis and the Europeans and evolved thereafter. The Hindus joined in 1886. These matches came to be called the Presidency matches due to their ever-rising popularity. In 1907 a triangular tournament was started which involved the Parsis, Europeans and the Hindus.

It was in 1912 that the Muslims joined the league of the famous Bombay tournaments turning it into a Quadrangular. Neutral umpires were introduced for the first time in 1917. Uptil now, umpires were mainly appointed from the Bombay Gymkhana. However, all this changed and umpires began to be appointed from the non-competing teams.

In the 1920’s, the quadrangular tournament gained immense popularity. Players were being selected from all over the sub-continent region. This gave a huge boost to cricket in India and led to the start of several other tournaments all over the country.

In the year 1937, a new team called the Rests was also added to the already four teams turning it into a pentangular tournament. However, in 1946 due to communal disturbances this pentangular tournament was done away with, and a zonal competition came into existence.

The Nayudus from Nagpur

The Nayudu family spent thousands on the promotion of cricket. They formed a club in Nagpur that coached many underprivelaged boys and took care of their education provided they fulfilled the only condition, that is, to play cricket.
Such was the family’s fascination with the sport that C K Nayudu’s birth was celebrated by his granddad by organizing a cricket match.

The family’s contribution proved fruitful as C.K Nayudu, the family’s illustrious son, went on to become one of the finest batsmen that India has ever produced.

One of Nayudu’s most memorable innings was his 153 in Bombay in 1926. Coming in an hour and thirteen minutes against six English top line bowlers spoke volumes of the progress made by Indian cricket. CK Nayudu was Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year in 1933 and was also nicknamed as the ‘Hindu Bradman’.

Formation of BCCI

A.E.R Gilligan’s MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) toured India in 1926 and took on Bombay in a match that proved to be a turning point in the history of Indian cricket. As C K Naidu smashed 153, with eleven sixes and thirteen fours, for the Hindus, India began dreaming big. It eventually led to the formation of BCCI in 1928. Records prove that the first meeting was held on 4 December 1928 and was funded by the Maharaja of Patiala.

The first President of the Board was RE Grant Govan and the founding Secretary was AS De Mello. De Mello later went on to become Board President and was also involved in the creation of the Cricket Club of India. He also helped in establishing Brabourne Stadium which was India’s first permanent cricket venue in 1937.

Source: http://cricket.zeenews.com/History-of-Indian-cricket.aspx?nid=76

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