With a wide array of cricket tournaments, the Somasundaram Corporation Ground attracts a cross-section of players and has witnessed many of them blossom into first-rate performers, writes R. Narayanan
At Chennai's own SCG (Somasundaram Corporation Ground), cricketers swarm like bees. The ground is so popular that many players regard it as their ‘second home’.
The reason is not hard to find. Blessed with a big heart, the SCG (located in the shopping hub of T. Nagar) can host as many as 20 to 30 matches at one go. Rarely has it flashed the ‘no vacancy’ sign to players who land from as far as Adyar, Mylapore and St. Thomas Mount to have a ‘hit’.
For the past 42 years, M.S. Gurumurthy, founder, Young Stars Cricket Association, has been a regular at the SCG.
In fact, he has been the ‘guru’ for quite a few players who have gone to represent the State, and in one case, the country too (T.A. Sekar).
Guru feels that the most striking aspect of the SCG is the opportunity it provides to players from the lower strata of society. “I have seen many boys from the economically-backward sections who are now well settled, thanks to their exposure at the SCG.” Former Tamil Nadu Ranji captain S. Suresh, too, began his innings at the SCG. “The atmosphere at the SCG is hard to beat. There were no cricket camps when I started playing and the YSCA ‘nets’ was very popular. I also played a lot of tennis ball matches which improved my flair for the game as well as my competitive spirit,” says Suresh, adding that he is swept by a wave of nostalgia whenever he walks along the SCG. Another Suresh (V), head coach of Future Stars Cricket Academy , feels a sense of gratitude towards the ground. “Whenever I pass by the SCG along with my daughter, I tell her how it has shaped my career and life,” he says. Suresh also mentioned that N. Gautam, who played for Tamil Nadu and Goa before cancer tragically cut short his life at the young age of 34, sharpened his skills only at the SCG.
Whenever the head coach of Kedar Cricket Academy Ashok Anand, opens his front door, he catches a glimpse of the SCG. “The place has become overcrowded, particularly during weekends. However, this is a sign of SCG’s popularity and also the fact that there is hardly any ground like it in the city,” says the neighbour. There is simply no doubt that SCG, which has won many battles to retain its space and identity, is the ‘MAC (MA Chidambaram stadium) of tennis ball cricket’ in Chennai.