History

The Thalassery Stadium, located close to the sea, hosts the Ranji Trophy cricket matches quite often. Lord Arthur Wellesley is believed to have introduced this game in Kerala in the 18th century for the British soldiers who were garrisoned in the Tellichery Fort India's first Cricket Club, which was later renamed as the Town Cricket Club, was formed in 1860 at Tellichery. The Tellichery Cricket ground was the hub of cricket activities those days. It has been reported that an exhibition match was conducted in this ground to raise funds during the I worldwar.Famous English cricketer Colin 's father was a tea planter in Thalassery and he used to play cricket in Thalassery during 1890s, and is credited to have laid a decent cricket pitch here, in the early 1900s. Colin Cowdrey played in Thalassery during the British regime. Thalassery Cricket Ground celebrated its 200th birthday in 2002 by hosting a match between the former cricketers of India and Sri Lanka. In 2008 a new stadium only for cricket was inaugurated in Conor Vayal near Venus Junction in Thalassery, as a project of the Kerala Cricket Association.

When India became free in 1947, Kerala was made up of two princely states, Travancore and Cochin and Malabar which was under the direct administration of the British. Later, with the reorganisation of states in 1956, Travancore-Cochin and Malabar were united to form the State of Kerala.

One of the great legacies left behind in India by the British has been the glorious game of cricket. Though football is the first love of most Keralites, there were a few pioneers who patronised the willow.

The home of Kerala cricket is the tiny little town of Tellicherry, sandwiched between Cannanore, up north and Mahe, a former French Colony of the British Malabar area. The game originated around the year 1880.

It is said that Lord Wellesley, who was stationed at Tellicherry, regularly played the game and "The Town Cricket Club", one of the oldest cricket clubs to be established, was a hub of cricket activity drawing its members from the elite of society. The great Colin Cowdrey had his baptism in the game on the cricket grounds of Tellicherry.

Then there was the legendary Kunhippakki, the palm tree hitter. He strongly believed that the ball was there to be hit and that too with all one's might. Crowds gathered just to see him bat and loft the ball over trees and house tops. He would have proved an ideal one day player. CK Klansman, the Olympian, was another Titan. He could well be called the forerunner of Baud Macaroni of the 1970's. Bowling against Hobbs and Sutcliffe, he sent down six consecutive maidens and the great pair had no answer to his wily art. Hobbs later said that batting against CK was a "unique experience".

The Menially family of Clincher contributed enormously to the enrichment of the game. PM Raga, who led the first Travancore- Cochin state team in the Ranji Trophy in 1951 was a hard hitting batsman. A useful change bowler, he was an astute captain and a gentleman to the core. It is a pity that this fine cricketer could never become the president of the Kerala Cricket Association, a position which he richly deserved.

Another Menially scion was Raghavan's illustrious younger brother, PM Anandan. Perhaps one of the finest medium pacers of his day, on par with G Kasturirangan of Karnataka and Kannayiram of Tamil Nadu, Anandan's calibre went unnoticed because he belonged to a state which was yet to made a name on the national cricket scene. Anandan's bowling was poetry in motion. Physically built like a whip, his bowling was like the cracking of one. He had a nice flowing action, there were no inhibitions in his movements. From the first ball, he strained his nerve and sinew to achieve his sole purpose - that of bowling fast. Anandan ran to bowl like a bull at a gate. He did not leap to a climax like many of his trade and his favourite delivery was the leg cutter. Often his genius came into full play with the old ball. Changing over to bowl with the wind, he increased his speed percept ably through the air to present fresh problems to the batsman. On days with a cross-wind from mid on, his slower ball developed the barest whisper of an out-swing late in its postponed flight. In Travancore-Cochin's first outing in the Ranji Trophy against Mysore, Anandan claimed six wickets yielding 100 runs in 27 overs in the first innings. His victims included LT Adisesh, the master batsman who was included in the Indian team that toured the West Indians in 1953, bat who did not make it because of personal reasons, and the wicket keeper K Srinivasan who later played for India.

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