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Sporting fraternity pays rich tributes to MAC

CHENNAI, JAN. 20. Death has removed from the sports scene a venerable, colourful and multi-faceted personality in M.A. Chidambaram, who passed away on Wednesday. Scion of the famous Annamalai Chettiar family, MAC, as he was popularly known, evolved a new grammar to administering sports, shaping the Board of Control for Cricket in India into an apparatus to be envied.

As a sportsman, educationist, administrator and patron of arts, MAC was unique, leaving his imprint and dynamism in every walk of life. He entered the field of sports administration in the early 50s, heading the State Table Tennis Association. Then he moved over to more popular sport, cricket. He was at the helm of State cricket for an enviable period of 32 years, during which he introduced a host of reforms and established a system to conduct international matches. The Stadium at Chepauk is a testimony to MAC's love for cricket.

MAC came into the Board as Vice-President in 1956, and then took over as President in 1960, represented the country with distinction at the Imperial Cricket Conference. He also served as President of the All India Lawn Tennis Association (AILTA), as it was known then, from 1963-66. He was also the Chairman and Senior Steward of Madras Race Club.

MAC's son, Mr. A.C. Muthiah, is currently the President of the BCCI.

Describing MAC as a ``true visionary'', Mr. Madhavrao Scindia, former President, BCCI, said, ``his accomplished handling of administrative matters contributed significantly towards making cricket in India a modern sport. In addition, he was a committed cricket lover, and his loss would be impossible to fill.''

In a tribute, Lala Amarnath, former India captain said that MAC's death was a great loss to cricket and cricketers. He added the valuable role played by MAC in helping him during the benefit match. ``I bow my head in reverence to the departed soul.''

Former Board President Raj Singh Dungarpur said, ``Chidambaram's contribution, particularly in matters relating to the financial health of the Board was unique. He laid the foundation and gave direction to the Board's financial affairs, long before anyone else, during his long tenure (1962-63 to 1982- 83 and 1985-86 to 1989-90) as its treasurer. Indian cricket will be indebted to him for all times to come.''

Polly Umrigar, former captain, said ``he was a thorough gentleman who cared a lot for the players. It was during his tenure as Board President (1960-63) that the players started travelling in first class in trains and later by air... It was a pleasure to work with him when he was the treasurer and I was the Executive Secretary of the Board.''

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, also a former captain, described MAC as a great administrator. ``We cricketers had immense respect for seniors like MAC, Zal Irani (another person who served the Board as treasurer and president), and Fatehsinh Rao Gaekwad all of whom have passed away. Their contribution to Indian cricket has been very much.''

Bishen Singh Bedi acknowledged that Chidambaram was the first Board President who realised the importance of keeping its financial health in proper condition.

Another former India captain, Mohammed Azharuddin expressed profound shock at the demise of Mr. Chidambaram. In a message on Thursday evening, Azhar recalled the sincerety with which the late president worked by putting his heart and soul into the promotion of the game in the country, not just in one particular region.

``The game badly misses this elderly and the most experienced and respected administrator now,'' he said. He conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members.

Mr.Jaywant Lele , Secretary BCCI paid rich tributes to Mr. Chidambaran, hailing his contributions to the Board.

``I am yet to come across a person who had more aura than him. He was a great personality and had a tremendous hold on

the affairs of the board. He was the person who was instrumental initially to bring about financial stability to the Board'', Mr. Lele told pressmen.

Ranbir Singh, former BCCI Secretary, said ``the strong and effective administrative and financial steps he took long ago are standing the Board in good stead.''

Former captain and current Test umpire, S. Venkatraghavan, who also served as Secretary of TNCA, described Chidambaram's death as ``a great loss to Indian cricket. He took a lot of effort in my career. There are no words to explain the deeds of MAC. He was involved in other sports also, and it was sports that gained by his involvement.''

Mr. R.K. Khanna, President, All India Tennis Association, described MAC as ``a great champion of sports who made tennis a popular sport in the country.''

In Chennai, Ramanathan Krishnan, tennis ace, said ``as a leading businessman, MAC was a big philanthropist. He has helped a lot of people... I am a recipient of his kindness. He will long be remembered, and his death is a great loss to sports in India.''

Mr. Ashok Kumbhat, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, recalled the services of MAC, and described him as ``a person par excellence. In his death the cricketing fraternity and in particular the TNCA has lost a doyen and the void caused by his death will never be filled.''

Mr. M. Ranga Reddy, secretary of Hyderabad Cricket Association, Mr.N. Shivlal Yadav, joint secretary of HCA, Mr. P.R.Man Singh, former secretary of HCA, also expressed similar sentiments. They recalled the contribution of the gentle administrator who they felt was primarily responsible in making the BCCI a prestigious and prosperous body.

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