Nicholas Brookes …. with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi
On February 1947, a Ceylon Cricket Association XI was invited to play Southern India in Madras. It was a great moment for Ceylonese cricket. Everyone scored runs: Makkin Salih made 98, de Saram 42, Jayawickrema 52 and Heyn 66 – but no one remembers these innings. They were blown out of the water by a sublime 215 from Sathasivam, a new record at Chepauk and according to many, the best innings ever played at the ground. Bertie Wijesinha, who made his first-class debut in the game, later wrote ‘Sathasivam wafted his magic blade and carved out a work of art’. Sport is often described as performance, but rarely has the term been more apt. Satha played for the crowd. His was a batsmanship elevated beyond the mere making of runs.
The circumstances only sweeten the story. Satha arrived in Madras without a bat, so before the game went to Ram Singh’s sports shop and picked up a ‘Lindsay Hassett Autograph’. On his way out to the middle, he was offered a bottle of scotch should he score a hundred. Satha simply nodded, returning to the pavilion at day’s end with 134 runs to his name. The scotch was handed over, and its donor Bernard Jayasuriya now offered a week’s trip to Bombay if he could complete his double in the morning. ‘Taken,’ he replied, as he swaggered off into the Madras night, bottle in hand.
Ben Navaratne woke early the next morning. A strict Catholic, he liked to attend church before play began. He was perturbed by the absence of his roommate and even more agitated when Satha came crashing into the room. Navaratne shoved him under the shower, got him dressed and made sure he was downstairs in time for breakfast with the team. Satha did the rest, adding 81 to his overnight total with minimal fuss. Neither of Southern India’s totals matched his score: skittled for 197 and 210, they lost by an innings. Robert de Kretser continued to enhance his reputation, picking up nine.
But the result pales into insignificance. What lives on from the game is Satha’s brilliant batting. Years later, Rajan Bala asked Ghulam Ahmed who was the batsman he’d bowled at. ‘You would not have heard about him,’ replied the former Indian captain. ‘M. Sathasivam of Ceylon. He did not allow me to land the ball most of the time during his double century against South India. The attack comprised other than me, Gopalan, Rangachari and Ram Singh all of international standard, and Satha with wonderful footwork treated every bowler with disdain. Pace and spin came alike to him and he put all of us under terrific pressure. I have never seen a better innings all my life to this day, and it is unlikely I shall.”
Scorecards from CricInfo – www.cricinfo.com
Ceylon Cricket Association in India, 1946-47
South India XI v Ceylon Cricket Association
02,03,04 February 1947
Result: Ceylon Cricket Association won by an innings and 114 runs
Umpires: AF Wensley and MG Vijayasarathi
Close of Play:
- Day 1:
- Day 2:
Ceylon Cricket Association 1st innings R Makkin Salih c Gopalan b Rangachari 98 TB Werepitiya b Rangachari 2 FC de Saram run out 42 M Sathasivam c Gopalan b Venkatesan 215 SS Jayawickreme c Ramdev b Gopalan 52 GM Spittel b Rangachari 3 ER Heyn c Frank b Venkatesan 66 RB Wijesinghe not out 14 Extras (b ?, lb ?, nb ?, w ?) 29 Total (7 wickets declared, 134.3 overs) 521 DNB: LE de Zoysa, RL de Kretser, +B Navaratne. FoW: 1-?, 2-?, 3-?, 4-?, 5-?, 6-?, 7-521. Bowling O M R W Gopalan 22 3 74 1 Rangachari 29 1 141 3 Ghulam Ahmed 34 0 105 0 Venkatesan 25.3 0 87 2 Alva 19 4 71 0 Johnstone 4 1 4 0 Frank 1 0 10 0 South India XI 1st innings R CP Johnstone lbw b Heyn 26 PR Shyamsunder lbw b Heyn 31 Ashgar Ali c Wijesinghe b de Kretser 53 B Frank c Navaratne b Wijesinghe 21 CJ Ramdev b de Zoysa 3 BC Alva c Spittel b de Kretser 38 MJ Gopalan c Sathasivam b de Kretser 9 NJ Venkatesan c & b de Kretser 6 Ghulam Ahmed b de Zoysa 3 CR Rangachari not out 1 I Sanjivarao c Jayawickreme b de Kretser 0 Extras (b ?, lb ?, nb ?, w ?) 6 Total (all out, 75 overs) 197 FoW: 1-?, 2-?, 3-?, 4-?, 5-?, 6-?, 7-?, 8-?, 9-?, 10-197. Bowling O M R W Spittel 19 4 48 0 Wijesinghe 11 2 27 1 Heyn 9 2 22 2 de Zoysa 18 3 49 2 de Kretser 18 7 45 5 South India XI 2nd innings(following on) R CP Johnstone b de Kretser 45 PR Shyamsunder lbw b Spittel 15 Ashgar Ali c Jayawickreme b de Kretser 32 B Frank b de Zoysa 12 CJ Ramdev lbw b de Zoysa 8 BC Alva c Navaratne b de Kretser 15 MJ Gopalan c Heyn b de Zoysa 46 NJ Venkatesan c Makkin Salih b de Kretser 16 Ghulam Ahmed lbw b de Zoysa 7 CR Rangachari run out 4 I Sanjivarao not out 0 Extras (b ?, lb ?, nb ?, w ?) 10 Total (all out, 101 overs) 210 FoW: 1-?, 2-?, 3-?, 4-?, 5-?, 6-?, 7-?, 8-?, 9-?, 10-210. Bowling O M R W Spittel 17 7 33 1 Wijesinghe 7 1 15 0 Heyn 6 3 7 0 de Zoysa 25 3 64 4 de Kretser 29 6 67 4 Jayawickreme 12 6 9 0 Sathasivam 5 2 5 0
IN ADDITION .… For a photograph of the Ceylon team, see .. …………………… https://thuppahis.com/2021/01/08/satha-and-de-saram-outstanding-batsmen-as-well-prominent-jailbirds/#more-48235
Satha flanked by his lawyers, Colvin R de Silva on his left and TW Rajaratnam on his right during o after his trial for murder [the victim being his wife] in 1951. For fuller commentary, see Michael Roberts, Essaying Cricket, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publishers,, 2006, Pix No 133.