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History of the BCCI - Part I

It would have been easy to begin this account from the year in which the Board of Control for Cricket in India was formally established. However, it won't be right or fair to do so. A historical review of any organization would be incomplete unless the event of its birth is juxtaposed against the incidents that led to the birth itself, however insignificant they may seem to be.

The birth of any organization is a grand culmination and redemption of every development that helps to lend a physical appearance to a vision. History does not always begin at a specific point. More often than not, it is a continuing process.

Keeping this in mind, it can be discerned that the BCCI owes its birth to the following factors:

A. Cricket matches played all over the sub-continent in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, which made a foreign sport popular among the locals.

B. The birth and growth of prestigious clubs and gymkhanas that acted as effective springboards for talented local cricketers.

C. Wealthy citizens who allotted time and money for the promotion of the game.

D. The zeal and dedication of the founding fathers of the BCCI.

In the year 1721, a few curious onlookers on India's west coast, in the region of Kutch, beheld a new sport that was being played by British sailors. The seeds of cricket in India were sown with that game and subsequent such encounters between British sailors and their compatriots who had settled in India for trade and 'political' purposes. However, it was not until 1792, when the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CC & FC) was set up in the first capital city of British India, that the traders-turned-rulers started playing the game on a regular basis.

A friendly fixture between a Military XI and Island XI played in Mumbai in 1797 is believed to have attracted a lot of attention and inspired the locals to emulate their rulers by playing the sport. It is the oldest recorded match in the city that went on to become India's cricket capital.

Seven years later, the CC& FC organised a game between its cricket team and one comprising Alumni of the Eton College. This match evoked a tremendous amount of interest amongst the locals. But cricket largely remained a sport played by the rulers and watched by the ruled, until 1848, when the Parsees, the first Indian community to take to cricket in a big way, instituted the Oriental Cricket Club in Mumbai in 1848. The same community formed another club - Young Zorastrians Club - two years later.

The Parsees were followed by the Hindus. They set up the Bombay Union Hindu Club in 1866, which in later years would come to be known as the P.J. Hindu Gymkhana. This institution still stands on Mumbai's Marine Drive seafront. Sir Dorabjee Tata, a visionary among the Parsees, contributed to the establishment of the Parsee Gymkhana in 1884. This institution also stands today on the Marine Drive seafront, separated from the Hindu Gymkhana by another cricket club - the Islam Gymkhana.

While Kolkata and Mumbai were making rapid and significant cricketing strides, Chennai was not too far behind. The members of the Madras Cricket Club, founded in 1848 by Englishmen settled in south India, initially played the game on the beaches, and later shifted to a locality in the city known as Chepauk. This site is presently home to not only the Madras Cricket Club, but also the M.A. Chidambaram stadium, one of the best cricket stadia in the country.

A local patron of cricket was Buchi Babu Naidu, who founded the Madras United Club and encouraged his fellow Indians to play the sport and compete with the Englishmen. A national inter-office tournament was instituted in his name several decades later.

To be continued..............................


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