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About Malaysia Cricket

History of Malaysian Cricket
The history of cricket in Malaysia will be incomplete without associating the game with the Royal Selangor Club. Founded in 1884 by a group of British planters, the club and the huge padang (field) in front of it, has be n the venue for almost all the important matches ever played in Malaya and Malaysia.Until the padang became Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) in 1987, the club was a must for all visiting teams.There are no records as to when the game was actually played in Malaya, but the assumption is that it could have been between 1884 and 1886.

During this period, the acting Resident of Selangor made attempts to improve the Padang and construct a cricket pitch.Selangor’s first match appears to have been against Malacca in 1887 and two years later, the Perak-Selangor series was inaugurated followed by the Selangor Singapore series in 1891.The first century scored on the Padang was in 1899 when C. Glassford made 101 for the Lake Club versus the rest.The double century came the following year. Dr Lucy playing a friendly match scored 212 not out.But it was not until some 20 years later that Malaya made history.

On June 6, 1927 Malaya beat Australia by 39 runs.The Cricketer magazine dated July 23 1927 states: “The home side’s fielding was excellent and N J A Foster’s management of his team left nothing to be desired. It was the greatest day in Malayan cricket history.”A splendid account of the historic match was written by Gerald Hawkins, entitled “A Crowded Hour of Glorious Strife”.He wrote:

On 3rd, 4th and 6th of June 1927, an Australian team visited Malaya. It contained several experienced Test-match players like Macartney, Woodfull, Bardsley, Andrews and Everett, and the others were first class youngsters who might quite possibly develop into Test-match quality.

Believe it or not, Australia was beaten by Malaya. No one except the actual spectators believed the news. It was against the order of nature.It was as if Queen Victoria had been amused; As if Hitler had become a Jew; or as if the Nelson Column of Trafalgar had been stolen by a Scots national. It shouldn’t have happened.Gamblers had offered 50-1 on Malaya to win but there were few takers as the odds were ungenerous. Business might have been done at 1000 to 1.The game was played on the Kuala Lumpur, Padang. N J A Foster knew his full duty as captain and won the toss, and kept a grip on the game with the tightness and craft of W G Grace.In the first innings, Malaya achieved 108 runs, Foster top-scored with 30. Dusty Rhodes got 16, Brand the wicket-keeper, 9. The pitch was a bit damp but quite good and the crowd expected Australia to clout 400 or so.But Dr Hennessey had other ideas.He was a slow bowler who combined leg-breaks and off-breaks. Bostock Hill at the other end was another slow bowler who relied on length and off-breaks.Hennessey, in spite of being nearly 50 years old, bowled like one inspired. He got Macartney and then Woodfull, and how he seduced St Anthony of a bat was a matter of grand strategy.At one time his analysis was five wickets for 7 runs. He ended the innings with 7 for 42.A hefty fast bowler, named Everett, as powerful as King Kong and a Sir Galahad who had the strength of 10, went in to stop the rot by knocking Hennessy off his length. Knocking a three-star bowler off his length is not, of course, a crime, but it is certainly an indiscretion.

The light was fair enough but has that curious and ominous glow which the Malays call ”lambang kuning”.One felt that Everett would have been wise to have consulted a first-class and reliable “pawang” (medicine man) or at least crossed himself and muttered some incantations. His innings was joyous and legendary while it lasted, and is now almost legendary.Jessop could not have it harder, and there is a tradition that one ball went to the Government offices, another over the pavilion, one to the river; and one to the roof of the old Club Chambers.Hennessey was in no way upset and set Foster a bit deeper. Everett lashed out again but the ball was an inch or two shorter of what Hennessey educated him to. Instead of soaring to the boundary for a super-six like a golden oricle, it went up like a sputnik.It seemed to be in the air for several minutes but descended at last it did. Johnny Foster was waiting and though, as it neared the ground, it seemed to have the speed of a power-driven eagle, he held on to it and brought off what he called the best catch of his life.

Australia were all out for 85. Malaya had an unexpected lead of 23. In their second knockout, Malaya made 158. Congden, an army cricketer, contributed 71, Leijssius 19, R M M Bradell 14, Brand 13. Australia had to make 182 runs to win. They got 142 of which Woodfill had 37 and Adams 34. Hennessey took 3 wickets for 30, Bostock-Hill 2 for 6. Dusty Rhodes fielded as well as A P F Chapman.Macartney with the sportsmanship of good cricketeers, rushed down the pavilion steps and was the first to congratulate Foster and his team.Foster was inundated with telegrams and probably had to engage a special short-hand typist to cope with them. One telegram was from Sir Hugh Clifford, who had just arrived in the country as Governor.The Australians made no excuses. They said it was a but too hot for them. But what did it matter? At any rate, it produced a healthy thirst.There were the usual trimmings for the entertainment and diversion of a team visiting form afar. There were lunches at rubber estates, a rafting picnic at Batang Kali, and of course dinners.”From 1927 until 1964, Malaya saw many teams comprising cricketers of great fame come and go. Nothing really sensational happened in the cricket scene until E W Swanton brought a Commonwealth Invitation tam in 1964.Swanton’s team included Gary Sobers, Seymour Nurse, Sonny Ramadhin, Taylor and the Nawab of Pataudi.This team created enormous interest among locals as evidenced by a large crowd which witnessed the match.The visitors batted first and were all out for 211 runs, much to the disappointment of the crowd, Sobers was bowled first ball by Alex Delilkan.Malaysia were bundled out for 108.Sobers, perhaps in revenge for his first ball debacle, caused a sensation by taking the first five wickets in five consecutive balls.In the second innings, the visitors made 130 And Malaysia replied with 103.Sobers’ remarkable achievement which will long be remembered was dubbed by local sportswriters as Sobers versus Malaysia.

The annual Saudara Cup series between Malaysia and Singapore has seen several interesting battles and incredible cricket.In 1979, Malaysia batting on a drying wicket were skittled out for 33, thanks to a brilliant effort by pace bowler Mahesh Mehta who took eight for 8. Malaysia lost the match by an innings and 60 runs.It was a record of sorts. Mehta’s bowling figures were the best in the series and it was the series highest number of wickets taken by a bowler in either team in an innings. Four years later, K Sekhar earned himself a place in Wisden by taking all 10 wickets in Singapore’s first innings. Although he took none in the second innings, it was a new record.Despite such achievements, cricket began to die a slow death most schools dropped cricket from their curriculum, club teams became dormant and cricket pads and bats rotting in some store.The Eighties saw the laterite pitches meant for cricket making way for more popular spectator sports like soccer and hockey. But a charged-up enthusiastic team took over the administration of the game in 1990.Ever since, there has been no turning back. The successful staging of the inaugural Super 8s was icing on the cake for all the hard work. Now the Pepsi-ACC Trophy, the ICC Trophy, the Commonwealth Games, and by the year 2020, Malaysia hopes to get Test status. It can be done. Malaysia Boleh!

Future of Malaysian Cricket
To predict what lies in the future for The Malaysian Cricket Association a crystal ball would be very useful. On the global scene, administrators are desperately seeking ways to market the sport with current thinking bouncing between, “is there too much cricket; or not enough”. The ICC Trophy competition has been split into two divisions and the Asia Cup could include the winner and the runner-up of the qualifiers in that competition. Earlier speculation in this publication (The Malaysian Cricket Association Annual 1998), suggested that Malaysia could get Test status via Asia. Speculating again it could be possible to achieve that aim by winning division two of the lCC? Who knows, but anything is possible in 20 years, especially when change is the name of the game.

On the local scene there is intense pressure to continue the utilization of cricket facilities produced at great expense for the XVI Commonwealth Games. Cricket has been mentioned as a possible future sport in the SEA Games and even the Olympics. There was a time a few years ago when club cricket declined because of the lack of grounds and facilities on which matches could be played. The last two national coaches had not a lot of praise for Malaysian batting and cited the lack of experience on turf wickets. It is significant that in the last Carlsberg-MCA league competition there were six centuries scored, twice that of recent years.

The development of junior cricket in Malaysia is a priority for the MCA and must be a talent base for the future. Already one of our best boys has been offered the opportunity to build his career in England and probably play in Tests for that country. This is a complicated issue and will not be solved easily, but then much can happen over the next few years of cricket here.

An exciting development for 1999 is the debut of the u-19 league. MCA President Tunku Imran said at the presentation of a generous sponsorship cheque from Pepsi, “Future national players will come from this competition, especially since the world youth tournament will be held biennially. This means we have to come up with a new team every two years”.Rules change and ideas are tied to need, but apart from the development in competitions, playing standards, quality venues etc. one vital need which should be addressed by the MCA is the promotion and marketing cricket in Malaysia. When nobody comes to see a tournament featuring some of the best cricket players in the world and don’t count KL’98, that was a component of a much larger excitement, then we have a ‘Brand’ problem, which needs a major marketing programme to encourage the public to want to watch cricket.

Development Program
ACC Umpires Course – 8th – 12th January
Umpiring Seminar – 5th & 6th February 2002
ACC Umpires Seminar- 23rd & 25th March 2002
ACC Sports Medicine Programme 9th-18th April
ACC Regional Curators Course 16th –20th September 2002