When you think of cricket in Madras state now known as Tamil Nadu most readers will be surprised to know that the first cricket family of Tamil Nadu for over 6 decades was a Sikh family. No family has done so much for Tamil Nadu cricket as this Sikh family whose head migrated to Madras city in 1904 from Amritsar.
AG Ram Singh The family settled down in Chennai where the head of the family got a job. In 1910 AG Ram Singh, an icon of cricket in Tamil Nadu, was born. Ram Singh took to cricket as a fish to water and he was soon selected for the Madras Presidency team. The governor of Madras Presidency, an Englishman, once when being introduced to the Madras cricket team was surprised that a turbaned Sikh was their main batting and bowling hope. Ram Singh was an all-rounder and his figures show that he can be rated as one of the best all rounder’s in India. He had a first class batting average of 35 and a measly bo wling average of 18.56 in 56 first class matches and 265 wickets. https://www.extamil.com
Ram Singh made his début in 1935 against Mysore and in that match he took 11 wickets and announced his presence on the national stage. It must be mentioned that he was only the second cricket player in India to complete a double of 100 wickets and 1000 runs after Amar Singh. He was also one of the quickest to reach this magical figure.
Ram Singh was on the verge of selection for the Indian team for both the 1936 and 46 tours of England, but missed selection by a whisker. But his herculean deeds in the Ranji Trophy for Madras earned him a representation in 2 unofficial tests against Jack Ryder’s team in 1935 and Lord Tennyson’s team in 1938. In those days Ranji trophy was a knock out tournament and Ram Singh played only 27 matches spread over 14 years. He retired from first class cricket in 1946.
The turbaned Sardar did yeoman service for Tamil Nadu and was also selected to tour Ceylon in 1945. He was a medium pace swing bowler who was eminently successful on Indian wickets as well as a hard-hitting batsman who has 6 centuries for Tamil Nadu to his credit.
After retirement Ram Singh was the cricket coach of Sir M Venkatasubba Rao Boys School in T Nagar, Madras. He retired as coach in the early eighties.
The Second Generation Ram Singh had 5 sons of whom 3 took to cricket in a big way. They were Kirpal Singh, Milkha Singh and Satwendra Singh. All 3 played for Tamil Nadu with distinction. Kirpal was a right hand batsman and off spin bowler and he played 14 tests for India with a century of 100 not out on test début at Hyderabad against New Zealand in 1956. At one time he was in consideration for captaincy of the Indian team, which then went to Nari contractor. Kirpal was a fear less player of fast bowling and hit a quick fire 53 against the might of Hall and Gilchrist at Chennai in 1959. He however faded away, but continued to be a force in the Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu. He was the captain of Tamil Nadu for almost a decade.
Milkha had tremendous record in the Ranji trophy and under him Tamil nadu won the Ranji trophy as well. He was a left-handed batsman who had a wide repoirtare of strokes as evidenced by his innings of 35 against Pakistan in the Delhi test (1960).
An interesting incident about Milkha is revealed. When he was batting at Delhi against Pakistan, a Sikh supporter gushed, Milkha give us a century and I will give you Punjabi suba. Little did the raucous Sikh realize that Milkha played for Tamil nadu.
Milkha made his test debut at the age of 18 and his test career was over at the age of 20. He never got a proper chance to play for India, which again points to the whimsical ways of the selectors. But in the Ranji Trophy Milkha was the main stay of the Tamil nadu cricket team for over a decade. He was also the first batsman to hit a century in the Duleep trophy when he hit 151 for South Zone against North Zone in 1961.
The youngest son of Ram Singh Satwendra Singh would have made it to the Indian test team as well, but a scooter accident rendered him hors de combat and he did not play cricket after that.
The last member of the Ram Singh clan to play cricket for Tamil nadu was Arjun Kirpal who was the son of Kirpal singh. But in 1996 a scooter accident ended his dream of playing cricket before a Ranji semi final.