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Exclusively charming

The Roshanara Club, built in 1922, is among the few centres where domestic cricket matches take place in the aura of the old-world. Shalabh Manocha reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 10, 2012 00:31 IST
Shalabh Manocha
Shalabh Manocha
Hindustan Times

Beauty though silent is still eloquent. The phrase stands true for the Roshanara club located in old Delhi. The club was formed by Delhi based British industrialist RE Grant Govan who was was a sports enthusiast and was named after the nearby tomb of Roshanara Begum in 1922. However the club was officially inaugurated in December 1922.

Apart from the picturesque view that place has, it also holds importance as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had it origins here in a meeting in February 1927. Anthony Stanislaus de Mello, a man from Karachi and worked under Govan was the pioneer in forming BCCI. The decision to form the Indian cricket board was taken during a meeting with Arthur Gilligan, the captain of the visiting MCC team, De Mello, Grant Govan and the Maharaja of Patiala here.

In 1931 BCCI with Govan at its helm invited the Marylebone Cricket Club to tour India for the first time, with the support of Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India.

The club has a swimming pool, tennis courts (clay and grass) but it is cricket that is the prime attraction here, especially when the Indian cricket's domestic season begins. An old scoreboard Many Ranji trophy games have also been played here, the latest being played between Delhi and Haryana from November 3-6.

Cricketers like Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Frank Worrel have walked on the rich turf of the place. During matches the old scoreboard is still used when almost at every other venue they have been replaced by electronic ones.

The beauty of the club can be gauged from the views that some of people travel from places likes United Kingdom to visit the venue. Eric and Mark who are members of MCC were seen clicking pictures of the venue on Friday during the Ranji game. "We have come all the way from London to have a look at this place. It is one of the most beautiful cricket grounds we have ever been too," said Eric.

While Mark compared the structure to the Harare sports club in Zimbabwe. "It so much like the Harare sports club with a club house where people sit and enjoy the game of cricket in the open."

Old timers who have been associated with the club however feel that the place has lost its. "It is not the same, what it used to be when I was the general secretary," said HC Basi.

Basi, now 90, joined the club as a member in 1950 and is one of the oldest members. Basi who also served as a general secretary also feels that commercialisation has brought the standards a little down. "During our times only a select few could get the membership as there were certain requirements that had to be met but now all you need is money to be a member."

Another sad part about place is that pictures and documents of the old days have not been maintained.

First Published: Jan 09, 2012 23:04 IST