Sathasivam’s Gem of a Double Century vs Madras in 1947

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.”

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Scorecards from CricInfo –

Ceylon Cricket Association in India, 1946-47
South India XI v Ceylon Cricket Association
Chepauk, Madras
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

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IN ADDITION .… For a photograph of the Ceylon team, see .. ……………………

Nicholas Brookes

Satha and De Saram: Outstanding Batsmen as well Prominent Jailbirds


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.


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