Friday, June 14, 2024

Shillong Cricket Association celebrates 75 years


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By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Cricket, an English game but played all over the world, has come a long way in the state of Meghalaya.

Cricket has been played in what is now Meghalaya for over a century and the sport that is now played by thousands of youth in the state started in an organised manner with the establishment of the Shillong Cricket Association in 1937.

After a grueling journey of 75 years, the Shillong Cricket Association is celebrating its platinum jubilee during 2012-2013.

The game was introduced to Shillong as early as the 1860s by tea planters and other British officials under the aegis of Shillong Sports Club. It was later known as Shillong Club, which established the Shillong Town Club and played matches with the European officers as early as 1906.

The Shillong Cricket Association (SCA), established during 1937-1938, became affiliated with the Assam Cricket Association on November 30 1947 and continued to remain an affiliate of ACA until 2008, when Meghalaya was grated an affiliate membership by the BCCI.

SCA General Secretary Naba Bhattacharjee said, “This is an event of immense pride for all players, officials, cricket lovers – both past and present as the Shillong Cricket Association, adhering to the spirit of the occasion has decided to celebrate the jubilee in a befitting manner with various functions, cricket matches, seminars etc to commemorate the momentous event.”

Shillong has been the epicentre of cricket in the region for decades and has contributed with emergence of players with outstanding cricketing acumen and performance.

Cricket at various levels, including Inter University, District level and exhibition matches between teams comprising regional and national, were held on numerous occasions.

A number of players from Shillong represented the Assam Ranji Team, while a few like Parimal Bhattacharjee, Abhijit (Joy) Mitra also represented East Zone for a prolonged period.

Mark Ingty and, later, Jason Lamare kept the SCA flag flying by representing both Assam and East Zone.

PJ Lamare also played for Assam School in the CK Naydu Trophy and was also in the Ranji trials on several occassions.

Cricket in Shillong is an old sport dating back to the days of the British, who played cricket at the “Cricket Ground” locally known as “Kirkit ground”- presently known as Garrison Ground within Shillong cantonment.

While recalling the past, Bhattacharjee said that the cricket ground in Polo occupied the entire space under the present JN Stadium complex including over half of the present cricket field. This entire area was utilised exclusively for cricket where a typical English clubhouse and manicured ground with a natural drainage system was the highlight of the cricket ground, considered one of the best in eastern India .

“While most of the matches were played at Polo, Garrison Ground was primarily used for net practice, since the ground did not have adequate area for a standard cricket ground,” he recalled.

In its long history, Shillong has been able to produce great players like Jagdeeshan, Tosil Ray, Dalip Singh after independence and they were followed by SS Roy, Jyotish Sen, Mihir Sen, Md. Sukkur, Manik Sen and Md. Ghafoor among others.

“However, Bibhut Ranjan Biswas – an accomplished cricketer himself – also contributed towards administration and management and Ramananda Chakraborty, without doubt was definitely the most accomplished cricketer from Shillong who loved and lived the game with a passion difficult to match,” Bhattacharjee said.

This familiar figure, even with serious illness was a familiar personality at the cricket ground until 2008-2009, braving his age and deteriorating physical condition to witness Shillong league matches.

The early 1960s and 70s saw a new set of talented cricketers like Bulan Dutta, Swapan Bhattacharjee, A Kanjilal, Mohon Mukherjee, Moloy Purkyastha and Peter Jarman Lamare, to name a few, who carried the game forward.

To flag off its platinum jubilee celebrations, the SCA organised a one-day friendly cricket tournament on Saturday, which saw the participation of Shillong Press Club, Veterans XI and the SCA.

The SCA was finally able to lift the trophy by defeating the Shillong Press Club in a thrilling final encounter.


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