Thursday, March 6, 2014

42year old scores a 48over century in TNCA league!!!

An unsung hero serves as a shining example for youngsters

In 1989, Sanjay Manjrekar had just hit a double hundred in a test in Pakistan. Having watched the double century on TV, this teenager on Balaji Avenue, T. Nagar, Madras, who had just joined Vivekananda College, practised long hours at his house calling himself ‘Manj’. After every ball, he motivated himself with the words ‘well played Manj’. It seemed he too wanted to bat long. One of those days, that year, he broke the teeth of a girl next door with a spanking cover drive. Last weekend, he broke the heart of the opposition with a knock that had them gasping for breath.

That same season, playing in an intra-class (evening college) match at the Vivekananda College, he took what still remains as one of the best catches I have seen. With his class losing the match, he ran back from Mid on and ran back to almost the long on boundary to hold the skier with his body facing the boundary line watched from outside by his college captain Ravishankar ( the catch helped turn around the match and helped his class win that evening).

25years later, he served as a shining example for any youngster, looking to make his mark in cricket, with a century that definitely exemplifies ‘batting long’. His first coach, the late AG Ram Singh, would have been proud of this knock. Even in the nets, Ram Singh (who was also my coach) used to say ‘Do not hit the ball in the air, have patience’.

The TNCA V division league here in Madras is meant to be a stepping stone for any youngster into the world of cricket. However, with the advent of shorter version of the game, most of the youngsters, in the last 5years, have gone after bowling attacks in V division league as if they were playing a T20match. Most times, the first innings of the match has ended before the 40over mark (of a 50over match). 

With the proliferation of the shorter version of the game, most teams have struggled to instil in youngsters the importance of playing long innings. No more do you see teenagers letting the ball go to the keeper. Rarely do you see youngsters playing ground strokes and rotating the strike during the first 15overs of the innings.

It is also not often that 40+ year olds play 40+ overs in 50over league cricket, especially in lower division league. It is quite an achievement to brave the heat over a 3hour period and score a century. Longer version games require endurance and patience. It calls for supreme fitness and high levels of concentration.

Last Sunday (March 2) at the Sir Thyagaraya College Ground in Washermanpet, 42year old R Ananthakrishnan, who plays for MCC in Inter Club tournaments, and who still runs from long off to long off while fielding (perhaps he wants to send the message that he is not only young at heart but young and fit physically as well!!!) for MCC in T20 cricket, played a knock that served as a perfect example of how to play 50over cricket and one that any teenager would do well to learn from and adopt.

With Harnath (promoted this year by MCC) facing relegation from Division V and facing Triplicane Cosmopoliton Club in a must win game, Captain Ananthakrishnan opened the batting, let balls go during the initial phase seeing off the new ball before settling down to play a long knock.

He batted 48overs in the March heat, ran hard between the wickets, showed a lot of grit and determination, played very few balls in the air in his century that helped his team put up a winning score of 230+. Finally he had played a ‘Manj’ like knock.

25years after his league debut, he showed that following the basics of the game will help you strike tons. In fact, more often than not a top order batsman playing for 40overs+ will result in team posting a winning total.

He showcased that playing in the ‘V’ and ‘Not lifting the ball’ till one settles down still have relevance in a 50over game. He also showed that one needs to display patience in 50over games and that it is not just about hitting fours and sixers right from the start.

Ananthakrishnan, who was also coached by Rajan Balan and Kedarnath has scored 3centuries for MCC in league cricket but this one possibly would remain in memory as the most satisfying coming at a time when his team needed him to stand up and deliver.

Two unwritten rules in his life came on to the fore on Sunday last- Rule No. 1 Always keep your chin up and be Positive. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1. For a fact, his blood group is 'B+ve' as well.

Finally, just a month short of turning 43, the ‘Manj’ man has arrived!!!


Anonymous said...

great article, Prabhu!

For me, his knock against the "vaai" Don Dosco team (TNCA pre-quater final) at Guru Nanak was not only breath-taking but showed master-class. And he could do anything..medium pace, left-arm spin, wkt-keep.. Somehow he did not come into the lime-light (pure bad-luck) but what a cricketer! Wish I could play 30% of his capacity/level.

Always a big fan of Anantha!


mams said...

what a great knock anantha and what a great article wriiten by a 43 year old guy who is emerging to occupy the slot left vacant by rajan bala. his article is bit lengthy like his hair

Anonymous said...

Nice article. A fitting one to a polished and humble cricketer.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Wow nice one Prabhu....

Anatha awesome to know that you still raring to go. congrats.

Pure bad luck that none from the 1983 PSBB team made it big....I was expecting at least 3 of the guys making it to the big league....Congrats again Anantha keep up the good work ....Singaram street guys can vouch for his talents....

Thanks Prabhu for bringing back the memories one should be from Somasundaram grounds...I am sure you can dig in generations of talent....