Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Raman Subba Row

For Raman Subba Row, the fourth cricketer of Indian origin to play for England, returning to the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai was a nostalgic experience.
"October 8, 1953," he recounts, "that's when I came to the CCI with the Commonwealth team."
Eager to revisit the past, Subba Row also sported the same tie he had worn when he first came to the club more than 51 years ago.
Subba Row played 13 Tests for England, but became more famous as a match referee.
During his tenure (1991 to 2001), among many things, he penalized Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath for spitting at West Indies batsman Sherwin Campbell, sent Aussie keeper Ian Healy home for showing dissent and officiated the infamous India-South Africa series in 2000.
Subba Row, 72, on vacation in India, spoke to Cricket Correspondent Deepti Patwardhan about his Indian roots and his involvement in the game as a player, administrator and official.
Can you tell us about your connection with India?
My father originally comes from Andhra Pradesh, from a little village called Bampatla on the coast, which I think has had some damage during the recent tsunami. It is near a place called Chirala, which was the home of the Indian Tobacco Company. At a very young age my grandfather sent him to a university in Ireland, in 1913. He did four years at Dublin University and got his law degree. Then he retraced his steps back to England. He was there for a short time and during that short time he met my mother. He brought his English bride back to India.
He practiced in Chennai, Madras at that time, as a barrister for the Privy Council for three years during which my two elder brothers were born, and then in 1920 they returned to England.
Sadly, my eldest brother died in a car accident before I was born and I think I am just a replacement for him. But I have come back to my father's village three times now. It was very nice to meet the people there.
When you were born, the freedom movement was brewing in India. Did it affect Indian families in England?
No, living in the UK we didn't see much of it. My father was president of the Indian social club in London, but we weren't really affected by what was happening in India.
Did you ever contemplate playing Test cricket for India?
I always enjoyed the association with India, but having been born and brought up in England, and lived through that awful war, with the bombing and all that, you just get very anglicised. I have never forgotten my Indian connections and I am very lucky to have friends in both parts of the world.
But having grown up there you become a part of the English culture; going to university and playing English cricket. I also went into the Royal Air Force for two years when all the youngsters had to do what they called the National Service, played cricket that summer and then went on to play for England.
Do you regret not playing a Test in India?
It would have been lovely to play here (in India), but it is just that a tour didn't coincide when I was playing. I played against India in 1959 at the Oval; I got close to a century then (he scored 94).
It was always nice to talk with the players from India. I first met the Indian team just after the war. The Indian team was the first to come to England after the war (World War II) in 1946. People like (Vinoo) Mankad, (Vijay) Merchant, (Vijay) Hazare and the Nawab of Pataudi (Sr) were there. My father took me to a place called Hastings at the end of the day's play and I shook hands with all of them when I was 14. So it was a lovely experience.

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