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My Autobiography – Anandji Dossa’s huge compliments

My Autobiography – Anandji Dossa’s huge compliments

I apologise for having discontinued posting the excerpts of my Autobiography. The main reason was dual fold. First we have shifted our residence from Vasanthnagar to Jayanagar Seventh Block and the second was the availability of Internet connection. I assure you that there would be no break till the completion of posting the final excerpt

I had already started contributions to Sportstar – a weekly tabloid from The Hindu Group of Publications, Madras, and courtesy Rajan Bala.  Sri Sunder Rajan, an Iyengar from Mysore was its first editor. He wrote me a letter requesting an article on five decades of Indian cricket. The lay our formalities were left to me. I sought the advice of Rajan Bala and sent the article to Sportstar. It was published in two issues – three decades on one issue and two decades in another issue.

I had reached Bombay to attend the Golden Jubilee Test and was sitting in the pavilion with the commentators who were to broadcast the game. Sri Ananda Rao who was one of the commentators of the match and Bishen Singh Bedi who had a long walk on the periphery of the stadium came to me. Bishen Singh Bedi asked me, “Gopal, where is the next issue?”. He had gone through the article on three decades and was eager to read the article on next two decades. I told him that the magazine is expected to hit the stands next day.

Anandji Dossa complemented me that “you are the first statistician in the Indian cricket history to write the Descriptive Statistics”. Statistics of Indian cricket till then meant the batting and bowling averages of the players at the end of the series/season.

I wrote for Sportstar for eight consecutive years. One issue used to contain three to four statistical articles. They used to publish sometimes under my initials “HRG” and sometimes with my full name “H.R. Gopala Krishna”

My Autobiography – Meeting Cricket Stalwarts

My Autobiography – Meeting Cricket Stalwarts

During a test at Bengaluru between India and Australia in September 1979, S.M. Gavaskar completed 5000 runs of his test career. He made ten runs in this match. He reached 5000 runs land mark when he was on three. I gave him the list of other batsman who had reached the land mark of 5000 runs in tests.

He was the editor of Sports World, a weekly publication from Calcutta. He wrote thus “Even though I scored ten runs in this game, I had completed 5000 runs of my test career when I was on three. The importance of this achievement was not known to me, till the statistician H.R. Gopala Krishna gave me a complete list of other batsmen who have completed 5000 test runs”. I cherish the wordings of S.M. Gavaskar verbatim even after 39 years nine months.

Another important event I want to recollect that took place in this year. Immediately after the test against Australia, Bengaluru hosted a test against Pakistan in November 1979. Madras TV station was in charge of televising this match. They needed a Statistician . Mr Raghavan – Station Director and Programme Executive approached authorities of Karnataka State Cricket Association and my name was suggested. They were told that I would be available at YMCA Grounds where I had an umpiring assignment. They came to the ground post lunch and waited for nearly two and half hours as the match got over at 5.00 PM. They met me and requested me to officiate the game for TV. 

I refused the offer as I have accepted the All India Radio assignment. They had a scorer by name Arunachalam who was just a scorer with no statistics at all. My dual role as a scorer-cum-statistician had caught up with the media already.

Dr. Narottam Puri was one of the commentators for this game and he used to send a staff of Doordarshan to AIR Hindi booth requesting for statistical tit bits of the match. I used a carbon sheet and catered the stats to both the booths.

My Autobiography – I got married on Emergency Proclamation day – 25 Jun 1975

My Autobiography – I got married on Emergency Proclamation day – 25 Jun 1975

Thus began my journey with International games and it’s just a coincidence that I will be officiating my 100th International game at the very stadium where I had begun my journey. The test match between India and Afghanistan which begins at Bengaluru on 14.06.18 would be my 100th International game. It is also a coincidence that this 100th game has come in my 50th year of my cricketing career.

On May, 10, 1975, at home, Doddamma, Kitty, Seeki and Dodda Jayamma interviewed a girl in alliance for me. Her name was Vijayalakshmi, who became my life partner on 25th June 1975.

Marriage took place at Hoysala Karnataka Sangha Hostel. Wilson Gardens, Bangalore and was attended by mother’s mentor “Seeni” with his family, which made me very happy. 

I was never aware of the fact that the “Emergency” was clamped in the country on June, 25, 1975.  When I reported for duty at the Bank, one of my colleague – Clement Susainathan, called me aside and asked “what were you doing on 25th June”. I told him sheepishly, that I got married on that day. He joked that when the entire country was having Emergency on that day, you were having your “Emergency Night”. Clement resigned from the bank later and has settled down in US. We had a get together when he visited Bengaluru last year.

Prior to our wedding, I went for a walk with Vijayalakshmi and her sisters and cousins. At one moment, we two were left alone while her sisters and cousins were walking a few steps ahead of us. I suddenly told my would-be wife that you are “my second wife”. She was puzzled for a moment and stared directly in my eyes. I told her that Cricket is my first wife and she was my second. She was relived and told that she is very much interested in Carnatic Classical Vocal music. From that day to this day, we have never interfered in our respective fields.

My Autobiography – First test match at Bangalore – My debut as a scorer for All India Radio

My Autobiography – First test match at Bangalore – My debut as a scorer for All India Radio

I was the official scorer for many domestic matches such as Irani Cup matches, Duleep Trophy matches and a couple of Ranji Trophy matches played at Bengaluru.

In one such Irani Cup match played in the month of October in scorching heat, there was no shelter for official scorers. Sri M Chinnaswamy saw the lapse after the start of the match on the first day of the match and arranged for shelter during Lunch. Sri B Satyaji Rao, remembers this incident even to this day and the reaction of Sri M Chinnaswamy to the lapse of providing shelters to scorers was really apologetic. He was feeling a “Papa Prajna” for the lapse. It appears he told all the officials about this lapse and also feeling for me as I scorched under the Sun’s heat.

I sweat a lot and I used to score the matches with an Ink Pen. There were occasions when the score sheet used to get smudged due to my placing the palm on the score sheet. The score sheet used to look ugly. Seeki – my uncle came with a solution of using Dot Pens. I went a step ahead and used four coloured dot pens – Blue, Black, Green and Red. Singles scored by the batsmen were with Red, twos with Green, threes with Blue and fours with Black. This made the score sheet very colourful and also gave it a beautiful appearance. Thus I became the first scorer to introduce colour pens for scoring. This also made me easy to count the number of fours and sixes scored by the batsmen with ease.

Bengaluru became the test Centre hosting the test match between India and West Indies in November 1974. All India Radio had two commentary booths – one in English and another in Hindi. Cavale was an automatic choice for English Booth and M.S. Srihari, Programme Executive, All India Radio, was scouting a scorer for the Hindi Booth. It appears that he contacted Sri M. Chinnaswamy who had suggested my name. B. Satyaji Rao had also used his good offices to have me as a scorer for the Hindi Booth. B. Satyaji Rao and M.S. Srihari were good friends.

Thus, I made my international debut as a scorer for the first ever test match at Bengaluru between India and West Indies.

Suresh Saraiya, who was the Commentator for the English Booth had travelled to Bangalore along with Yashwant Chad, a scorer for All India Radio commentary broadcast of commentaries in Bombay, assuring him of the scoring assignment for the Bengaluru test.

It appears that Saraiya had put pressure on M.S.Srihari, to have Chad as a scorer instead of me citing the reason that I have no experience of scoring a test match. But M.S. Srihari, according to him, told Saraiya, that since Bengaluru has become a test centre and will host test matches in future, I have to build up a panel at Bengaluru and cannot have Chad as a scorer for the test. Thus H.R. Gopala Krishna, the International test cricket scorer was born.

Seeki my second uncle – was all help to me on the eve of the test. He knew that I have little knowledge of numbers in Hindi and gave me a book containing the Hindi equivalent to numbers. Seeki was a Hindi teacher and had passed MA Examination in Hindi from Benares University. He was also a Tamra Patri Awardee by Sri B.D. Jatti for his contribution to Hindi in the State of Mysore/Karnataka as a Hindi Pracharak.

Another interesting thing happened during the test. On the second day of the test, Tony Cozier, Guest Commentator for English Commentary broadcast saw my score sheet in person during lunch and appreciated it. He asked me whether I am officiating the third test at Madras.  I said no and requested to have the autographs of West Indian Cricketers on the score sheet. He took the score sheet to each of the touring West Indies team member and had their autographs for me. The score sheet is still the proud possession of mine. I have laminated all the four sheets. All the four score sheets of four innings of the test are annexed to this note.  I am glad to note that these score sheets have found a place prominently at the entrance of the club house of KSCA.

My Autobiography – Me and Former England Captain Donald Carr

My Autobiography – Me and Former England Captain Donald Carr

In the year 1971, Engineers did not get a job as there was recession in the entire country. Civil Engineers were absorbed in PWD. It was a hard time for Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. I had worked on Daily wages of Six rupee a day in the Soil Testing Sub Division of PWD at Ananda Rao Circle, Bangalore.

I applied for a Box Advertisement in Deccan Herald from a Nationalized Bank calling for Clerks and wrote the written test. I was selected by Dena Bank and got an appointment letter asking me to report at Sarjapura Branch in the first week of December 1971. Doddamma was unhappy at my joining the Bank job. She expressed her unhappiness and said, “Annaiah was an Engineer and was an officer and you being an Engineer, I am unhappy at your joining the Bank as a clerk.” Again Kitty came to my rescue in convincing Doddamma and I reported at Sarjapura Branch of the Bank and joined Dena Bank as a clerk on 15.12.1971

Annaiah’s concern about me was evident from the following conversation in the year 1969. I was doing my fourth year Engineering and on a particular Thursday (Thursdays we did not have classes after 10.00 AM – I used to be back home by 11.30 AM), we were conversing. Suddenly he asked me, ‘Gopala – have you taken drinks’. I was taken aback at this and asked why you are asking me the question. He told me that you are going to a college which is far away. If there is no class, you are spending time in the room of a friend/class mate who is in the hostel. Now a days drinking has become a habit among the students in the hostel. If you are into it, please tell me, as a father, I ought to know your habits. I told him, that I am not into it, and promised him that I will never take it. As long as he was alive, I never touched it and after his demise also I never touched it. I was offered drinks by G.R. Viswanath on his birth day, Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath and K. Srikkanth offered the drinks on the tour of Sri Lanka at Kandy and many clients had offered me the drinks while in service with the bank. I have said a firm “no” to all these offers and remained a “teetotaler” through the 49 years that have gone by.

In the year 1972-73, MCC toured India and played a match at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. It appears that MCC did not have a scorer on the tour and requested Shri M. Chinnaswamy to arrange a Scorer for them. M. Chinnaswamy was looking out for me in the Stadium. I was in the stadium premises. I had gone to the stadium to collect the entry badge for scoring the match next day. He sent words for me. When I appeared before him, he handed over the MCC Score Book and asked me to score the match for MCC.  My joy knew no bounds and the first thing I did was to inform my Guru Cavale regarding the assignment. He felt happy for me and gave me some useful tips as the score cards differed in style.  I brought the score book home in the evening. I was introduced to Mr. Donald Carr, who was the former England Captain and the Manager of the touring MCC team by Shri M. Chinnaswamy on the morning of the match as ‘Your Scorer’. I warmly shook his hands. It was a three day match and at the end of the first day, Shri Chinnaswamy asked me to show him the score book and expressed happiness at the way the work was carried out. On the last day of the match, I handed over the score book to Mr. Donald Carr after the match was over and he patted on my back saying “Well Done, My boy”. His words of appreciation came in presence of Shri M. Chinnaswamy, Shri Nagaraj and Shri B. Visweswara Rao. It was great honour for me. I cherish those encouraging words by a renowned England captain even today.

My Autobiography – Two tragedies in the family

My Autobiography – Two tragedies in the family

During July 1969, there was a tragedy at home. Chikka Jayamma who was pregnant had an abortion at her in-law’s residence. She saw the abortion happening in front of her eyes and breathed her last immediately suffering from a heart attack. It was on Ashada Shuddha Trayodashi, two days prior to Bheemana Amaavasya Festival, she breathed her last.

Her death has a huge impact on my educational career. I was unable to concentrate on studies. I completed the Engineering course but withdrew from the Examination in April 1970. Appeared for the examination in September 1970 – passed in all subjects except two in which I got ordinance.  Appeared for two papers in April and failed again.

During June 1971, Annaiah fell sick and was admitted to Bowring hospital for treatment. He did not return home and breathed his last exactly at 9.00 PM on 31st July 1971. I remember the time as precisely as I had a watch in my hand and Annaiah had asked me the time just the previous minute. He was to be discharged on 31st July 1971 in the morning. He called for the “Panchanga” from home and had told the Doctor that he wished to get discharged on 01 Aug 1971, as 31st July 1971 was Navami. He could not fulfill his wish as he breathed his last on Navami itself.

Doddamma, Kitty, Seeki and Dodda Jayamma and we two, me and Chandri were totally shattered at the demise of Annaiah. Doddamma’s pain was unbearable as she lost her daughter and son within a span of one year and that too in front of her eyes and in her old age. She was 85 plus then.  I was direction less and spent many hours playing cards with a decent company of friends. I used to reach home late 11.00 PM or sometimes past midnight. I never bothered to study for the two ordinance papers I had to finish. It was Kitty’s timely intervention and advice put me back on rails. Later on I learnt that it was Doddamma’s direction to Kitty to talk to me. I was at studies again and passed the two papers with ease by getting good marks and completed the B.E. Degree in Electrical Engineering. I paid heed to Kitty’s advice and stopped playing cards with the same intensity I used to play. Late coming home was put to halt and I became an obedient boy of the family.

In retrospect, Annaiah knew his time of demise. This was confirmed as he had casted Ashtaka Varga, which gives the exact time of one’s death. I found this casting/prediction hidden in a box kept in his cup board after some years. He has learnt Astrology so well from his maternal uncle “Kanti” who was a renowned Astrologer of his times in Channaraya Patna. I was also lucky enough to learn Astrology basics from Annaiah and Kanti.

Annaiah’s profound knowledge of Astrology was made known to me by his brother-in-laws – Ramanna and Kittu. Ramanna was to tell me that he had gone to Thirthahally to see my mother who was sick. During conversation with Annaiah, Ramanna was told the exact time of death of my mother. My mother passed away almost the same date predicted by Annaiah. Kittu also told me the same incident appreciating the knowledge of Astrology of his brother in law and was awe about his predictions.

During Annaiah’s hospitalization, I was with him in the hospital. He was hospitalized for a month. I used to spend nearly Ten Rupees a day. During the last week of July, he had asked me how much money I have. I told him I have fifty rupees with me which I had borrowed from his cousin Prabhakara {Yenkana Maga} towards the examination fees which I had to pay on the last date of August,04, 1971. He asked me to spend the amount and assured me that the examination fee can be drawn from his Pension Account which would be disbursed on 31st of July.

Annaiah’s colleague by name Shri Gundu Rao used to visit him at the hospital on hearing the news of his hospitalization. Shri Gundu Rao had retired as Executive Engineer from PWD and was staying in Bowring hospital quarters with his son Dr. Somashekhar who was an anesthetist. Shri Gundu Rao slipped a note of fifty rupees into the hands of Kitti as Annaiah’s body was taken out in a trolley from the ward. Annaiah’s cremation expenses were met with the amount of fifty rupees given by Shri Gundu Rao. I paid my examination fees by borrowing from my classmate Chandrashekhar who was already employed with MICO.

My Autobiography – Me and Cavale

My Autobiography – Me and Cavale

He taught me the nuances of scoring. He was instrumental in appointing me as a scorer for the Press Box for the match between Visiting Australian Eleven and South Zone Eleven at Central College in December 1969. I am now in my 50th year of my cricketing career and would be completing the same this December 2018.

I still can visualize Ian Chappell leaning on the wall sitting on the rolled mat in dressing room allotted to Australians.

There were many occasions where in both of us scored the same match at Chinnaswamy Stadium – I as an official scorer and he as the scorer for Radio Commentary team. Believe me – there was not even a run difference between our scores. It was so accurate.

Cavale had passed the Umpiring Examination conducted by the Mysore State Cricket Association and was enrolled as an umpire on the panel of the Association. He influenced me take up the Umpiring Examination conducted by the Association.  He taught me Laws of Cricket threadbare which helped me to pass the Umpiring Examination conducted by the Mysore State Cricket Association with distinction. I was only one to get through the examination out of sixty and odd persons from Bangalore Centre in the first attempt. His words of advice still ringing in my ears – He impressed upon me that in Umpiring Examination  is not  like  an University Examination where 35 percent is  enough  to get  through. In an umpiring examination you should always get one hundred percent as one error would have a bearing on the result of a match. It can also make or mar a cricketer’s career.  Hence you should get 100 out of 100 in an Umpiring Examination. I took his advice in right earnest and prepared myself well by studying the Laws of Cricket twice or thrice a day prior to the umpiring assignment. This practice made me to err less while umpiring.

These were the days when I started breathing cricket and cricket only. We used to have Deccan Herald at home as News Paper. I used to read only the last page – Sports Page and nothing else. Come Nine AM in the morning. I used to disappear from home for an umpiring assignment on my cycle, that too when my father was not in his room.

He was a very strict disciplinarian. He observed all my activities and tried to prevent/dissuade me from cricket. The methods employed were keeping Deccan Herald away  from me by hiding  it  in a place known to  only himself, locking the cycle and keeping  the key in the locked cupboard and deflating the cycle by removing the valve tube and keeping it in the locked cupboard.

When I brought to his notice that the umpiring assignments were paid by the Cricket Association, he allowed me to do the umpiring. He advised me to choose between the two – Engineering Degree and Cricket. I pondered for a while and chose the Engineering Degree first.

After my first scoring assignment in 1969, I never did any matches as a scorer. However, I had to attend to a call from the Association to do the scoring of All India Universities matches played at St. Joseph College Grounds, Bengaluru. These games included Ceylon University.

Scoring these matches made my mark with the officials of the Association. Late Shri M. Chinnaswamy, Late Shri Nagaraj, Late Shri Visweswara Rao, Late Shri M.G. Vijayasarathy and B. Satyaji Rao observed my growth as a scorer and advised me on finer aspects of scoring. B. Satyaji Rao was a helping hand to me – in both fields – Scoring and Umpiring.

During the Lunch break of these games, Late Shri M.G. Vijayasarathy used to have a thorough look at the score book which I used to leave with him while having Lunch. There were occasions he used to ask someone to fetch the score book for him if I had failed to deposit the score book with him. He was kind enough to point certain mistakes/errors which I used to correct. His vigil and advice on the finer points of scoring made me a complete scorer.

Mysore State Cricket Association shifted all its activities from Central College to the present M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. The first official game on this ground was the Ranji Trophy match between Mysore and Hyderabad in December 1970. This game was played on 05th, 06th and 07th of December 1970. I had the honour of crossing the field – from Pavilion to the Score Board. This was my first Ranji Trophy match as a scorer for the Association.

My autobiography – Me and Cavale

My autobiography – Me and Cavale

I joined the Pre University course at Vijaya College, I befriended Cavale Sundar Raja Rao who was my class mate. He was selected as a wicket keeper in the college cricket team. The college team comprised of stalwarts like M.R. Sridhar (who represented Mysore University with distinction and later played Ranji Trophy for three states – Madras, Orissa and Maharashtra), Geeka, H.R. Venkatesh, M.S. Madwesh, Pachu, L. Nagabhushana and A. Jagannath. The last named was a forceful wicket keeper opening batsman and was selected for the All India Universities which toured Shri Lanka. Sunil Gavaskar was also a member of this All India Universities team. M.R. Sridhar led State Juniors Team. He represented Mysore/Bangalore University Team for three years in different capacities – as batsman in one year, as bowler in one year and as wicket keeper in one year. It’s a pity that this talented cricketer did not play for Mysore State in Ranji Trophy.

After completion of my Degree Examination in the same college with Physics and Chemistry as Major Subjects in April 1965, I joined the R.V. College of Engineering to pursue the Engineering course.

When I was doing my Degree course in Vijaya College, Cavale completed his Diploma Course and there was not much of a friendship between us as we did not meet very often.

I was a regular scorer for my R.V.C.E. College team. I wish to recall an incident to show how much I was accurate in scoring. R.V.C.E. was playing in Sub Metro League Competition of Mysore State Cricket Association League matches. There was one such match at Binny Grounds. The match went to wire and the opponent team’s scorer declared his team as winner. I was confident that our college team had won. Opponent team went on appeal. K.S.C.A. Authorities called for the score sheets of both the teams for adjudication.

Cavale was the adjudicator and the result was ruled in favour of R.V.C.E. Cavale counted the number of fours scored by the batsmen and also the number of boundary fours conceded by the bowler. My score book tallied, while the opponent score book showed a boundary four more in the batsman’s tally and a boundary four less in the bowler’s tally. Later on Cavale congratulated me for my accurate scoring in a pressure tight situation.

One of my close friends, Sarvottama Rao, a leg spinner, was to tell thus, “R.V.C.E. should get the credit for your upbringing in the field of scoring. Had we not made you to score the matches, you would not have come this far in this field.” He breathed his last a few years back and I recollected his words in an Alumni meet recently.

Cavale and me used to meet occasionally, in the evenings and walk down to Vokkaligara Sangha field – near City Market, where Bangalore Cricketers used to practice. This team had many cricketers who represented Mysore in Ranji Trophy. G. Kasturirangan, K. Rajagopal, L.T. Subbu, C.M. Varadaraj. I and Cavale used to watch the practice from the sidelines. Cavale identified the names for me.

Cavale had already made his mark in the field of scoring with his impeccable handwriting and had scored many Ranji Trophy matches and was familiar with many of the cricketers.

I failed in third year B.E. Examination which consisted of eleven theory papers and five practicals in April 1967. I took the examination in September and came out successfully. From October 1967 to June 1968, it was all Cavale and me. We became inseparables and spent time together during the day and also late up to 11.00 PM in the night. At home, people were not worried. If I was late, they knew that I was with Cavale. Sometimes at the corner of our house – culvert used to be the chatting place or sometimes in front of his house on Kanakapura Road. There are several occasion when both of us went to a second show Cinema. Cavale  has  an advice for me always – to preserve the half ticket of the second show cinema to show  it  to the beat Policeman who use to intercept me on my way back home from Kanakapura Road to  my home in  Jayanagar Seventh Block.

In a retrospect, I opine that Cavale’s friendship was the best thing happened to me in furthering my cricket career – both scoring and umpiring.

My Autobiography – Me and Lala Amarnath

My Autobiography – Me and Lala Amarnath

While in high school, I used to play for a team called “Kaiwar’s Team”. Mohan S Kaiwar was my class mate. He happened to be the grandson of Late Shri T.S. Venkannaiah, a well-known literary personality. There was match played between Board President Eleven and the touring Pakistan Eleven at Central College Grounds, Bengaluru in January 1961. Board President Eleven was led by Lala Amarnath. Some of our team mates Nagaraja, Prabhu and others decided to garland Lala Amarnath and they chose me to the task. We were allowed to the School’s stand which had a barricade of bamboos. It was decided that I should jump the barricade and run towards the pitch and garland Lala. I was very lean and used to run fast. I did accomplish the job by garlanding Lala but never expected that I would be chased by Policeman. I could not join my team mates in the school stand but ran towards the pavilion. Some elderly gentleman spared me from manhandling from Police and offered me a seat to watch the match after seeing my plight. I was totally frightened.

I for one never expected that I would share this experience with Lala. I had the occasion of officiating a test match between India and Pakistan at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, a few years later. Lala was the expert commentator for All India Radio and I was officiating the test as a Statistician. Lala invited me for a breakfast to the hotel where he was staying. I  had  the breakfast with him and narrated my garlanding him as a school boy when he lead the Board President’s Eleven against Pakistan Eleven  at Central  College grounds a few years  earlier. I had met Mohinder and Rajinder – his two sons and narrated this experience to them also.

Lala used to publish souvenirs ahead of a visiting teams tour to India. When India toured Pakistan in 1978-79, he requested me to provide statistics for the souvenir. I obliged him and he sent me a copy of the souvenir with his autograph with the following words “With all of my best wishes to Dear Gopal” 24.9.79. I had laminated this sheet and preserved it. This souvenir contains the prized possession of the photograph of Don Bradman. This photograph was specially signed for Lala Amarnath by the legend. This was revealed to me by Lala himself in one of our meetings.

My Autobiography – How I became a scorer

My Autobiography – How I became a scorer

An interesting incidence of my life with Bhava is worth narrating here. This was when I was in sixth standard and relates to the year 1955. The monthly school fee was eight annas and Bhava gave me one rupee and asked me to give him back the change in the evening. I paid the fee of eight annas and spent four annas on ice candy – four friends of mine ate four ice candies at one anna each – and in the evening gave the remaining twenty five paise to Bhava. He did not say anything till I finished my evening thindi and was about to leave home to play cricket at Nagarajas. I lied him that there was a fine of four annas for late fee. He was annoyed at my lie and told me in a stern voice – “Gopala, Don’t lie, if there is a late fee it would have been mentioned in the receipt. The receipt shows as eight annas.” He said, “You are lying. Tell me what you have done with four annas ?”.  I broke down and started crying loud. I told him the truth that I ate ice candy with four of my class mates. Then he consoled me saying, “That’s fine and never tell a lie again.” From that day to this day, I have never lied in my life.

Bhava was an asthma patient and suffered from it often. One such attack took his life in 1958, when I was in High school first year.

V. Nagaraja joined National High School for his high school studies and I continued mine at Acharya Pata Shala. The association with him and the playing in his compound became less frequent as our timings differed.

Acharya Pata Shala had a good cricket team to reckon with. A.V. Venkatanarayana, Ramani, H.R. Venkatesh, Shamanna, Joki Pinto, Raghunath Beerala, Paul Royan, were the few names which made rounds in NR Colony  cricket circles. A.V. Venkatanarayana led the school team with distinction. He along with Raghunath Beerala represented Mysore in Ranji Trophy. Add to this were, the Sports Secretaries Shri S. Keshava Rao and Shri Shartrugna. The latter played for a team by name “Bangalore Dynamos.” A.V. Venkatanaryana and Raghunath Beerala later represented Mysore in Ranji Trophy. A.V. Venkatanaryana and Ramani represented Mysore State Schools also.

I was a decent left arm bowler and wanted to represent the school team. Even though I had the requisite credentials, there was a firm NO from my grandparents. It became a fully confirmed “No” after my classmate M.S. Anantha got badly hurt in a School match.

I owe my cricketing career to three of my class mates – Late Shri A.V. Venkatanarayana, Cavale Sundarraja Rao and Raghunath Beerala. How they have influenced me and how their concerted efforts have a bearing on my cricketing career will unfold in the next few paragraphs.

I was a Southpaw – left hander by birth and used the left hand for all purposes including eating. The story goes that my mother used to apply neem oil (Bevina enne) to my fingers before eating and stopped the habit of eating by left hand. She also taught me to write with right hand. Thus the right hand became a cultivated hand for writing and hence I had a very good handwriting. The entire class knew about my handwriting.

It was a Saturday and a friendly match was arranged between Acharya Paatha Shala and National High School at National High School grounds. It was in the year 1960, when I was studying in ninth standard. There used to be a last period let off when our school cricket team played matches to enable students to watch the cricket match.  I went home and had my breakfast and went to National High School ground to witness the match.  Skipper A.V. Venkatanarayana won the toss and elected to bat. To his utter dismay, the scorer had played truant and had not reported at the ground. On seeing me, A.V called me, “Gopala, come here and act as a scorer, as you have a very good handwriting” (Gopala, baro illi, score maado, ninna handwriting chennagide). Thus my initiation to scoring began in 1960. From then onwards, I became a regular scorer for my school team, courtesy my team captain A.V. Venkatanarayana.

A word about my handwriting – how it had impressed my lecturers in the college is worth narrating here. I pursued my college studies in Vijaya College, Basavanagudi – Did my Pre University course as well Bachelor of Science Degree with Physics and Chemistry as major subjects. My Chemistry practical record was appreciated by lecturers. One such incident I would like to recall – it was in the final year of the course. We had a lecturer by name Ms V. Vatsala. Normally mistakes were corrected by the lecturers who were in charge of the practical classes. There was a mistake/error in one of the experiments that I had carried out previous week. Ms Vatsala called me and asked me to rewrite it again, as she did not want to correct the mistake/error. Our practical records were evaluated during the final examination. She did not want me to lose marks for the practical records in the final examination. We had three practical examinations in final examination – Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. The marks allotted to records of inorganic Chemistry was ten, while the other  two branches carried five marks each with a total of 20 marks for the practical record. It’s no wonder that I earned the full 20 marks for my practical records – the first ever student to get the maximum – in the history of the College. So much so for my neat and impeccable handwriting – courtesy my mother.

To be continued