February 02, 2013

Pantheon CC; cricket in the community

On most weekends, the city of Chennai plays hosts to over 100 cricket matches of all kinds - league, private tourneys and friendlies - in which over 5,000 people are involved.

It is a passionate community that stops at little to play the game.

And each club, team or colony group has a life of its own.

This weekend, if all goes well Pantheon Cricket Club will have a celebration but it will begin only after 22 men have had a go at the cherry or tossed it down the wicket.

The Pantheon CC group is meeting for old times sake. It does not have a milestone in mind, its fortunes died many years ago and some of the boys who were core to it have gone far, far away.

And yet, the Pantheon CC spirit floats in the air every now and then. So when  it gripped some of its members in December last, they decided it was time to party for old times sake.

Pantheon was a child of the 1970s and was formed by a bunch of school and college friends who used to hang out at Munawar Sharief's sprawling bungalow on the road where the city Police Commissioner's Office is located in Egmore.

The space in front of the bungalow was good enough for the boys to bowl and bat though they could not afford a new pair of pads or gloves and helmets and thigh guards were still not in the cricket player's armoury.

Patheon Road. The Pantheon. Patheon Café. So why not Pantheon Cricket Club? And the club had easily got its name.

As the passions blazed, the boys pooled some monies and laid a pitch on the ground behind the bungalow and got down to serious weekend practice. Soon they were playing friendlies and private tournaments, making tours to Bangalore and Mysore and winning new bats and balls as prizes!.

Once a year they ran a raffle and raised a decent pile. But the club did not have a godfather, a man who could show them the way. And those were times when even the TNCA managed a quiet league.

In the 80s, the Pantheon boys went their ways and the CC remained a topic that popped up when some of them sat for a drink.

Cricket, they say is now a circus.

For many though, it is part of life.

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