The Johnstone connection

THAT PICTURE of C.P. Johnstone in Miscellany, June 28, had his fellow Madras Cricket Club member, T.M. Srinivasan, ringing me up to say, "I'm delighted your picture captured one of Johnstone's many superstitions - in this case his constant fiddling with the flap of his left pad as he went out to bat." But a more interesting picture, Srinivasan said, would have been Johnstone, back in the pavilion, wearing only a towel, sarong-style, and staying thus, if one of his team-mates was approaching his fifty or century; he'd dress only after the mark had been reached or the batsman was out before that!

And Reader V. Ramnarayan rang up to tell me of another Johnstone and Chepauk connection. And in his best public relations manner, he introduced the subject that Steve Waugh is not the only cricket connection AMP Sanmar has brought to Madras. The second connection is Graham Meyer, the insurance company's Managing Director in Madras, whose father, Ron Meyer, played in Johnstone's European team in the 1944 Presidency match. Roy Meyer, who played a lot of cricket with the Royal Australian Air Force team when stationed in Madras in the 1940s, played for the MCC in 1944 and 1945. And in the only Presidency match he played, scored 23 before being dismissed by `Pincushion' Parankusam, the off-spinner.

Another cricket fan of the period rang up to ask, after noting the American domination of Johnstone's Sandwich links, whether I recalled there was a Yank in Madras who made a mark, playing regularly for the MCC and was considered one of the best fielders at cover in the South ever. Yes, I did - a left-hand batsman, Frederick Fales Richardson had learned his cricket at Westminster School in England where he captained the cricket and soccer teams. He was picked for every team in sight during the 1943-44 season when he arrived in Madras to, I think, join Shell. Playing for Madras in the Ranji Trophy, he scored 64 against Mysore and 62 against Bengal - where, during his three years in Calcutta he was better known as a footballer - and was picked by S.K. Gurunathan as one of the `Five Cricketers of the Year'.