SCG's date with history

The Sydney Cricket Ground scored a century of sorts when it hosted its 100th Test — between India and Australia — recently. And the Chairman of Cricket New South Wales, Dr. Gorur K. Harinath, is a proud man. “At the SCG, there is cricket in the air; you can almost feel it when the ground hosts matches, especially the big games,” he says. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

For Dr. Gorur K. Harinath, the second Test between India and Australia, played at the Sydney Cricket Ground recently, was memorable for several reasons. The Hyderabad-born gentleman, after all, is the Chairman of Cricket New South Wales (CNSW) and also a Board Member of Cricket Australia.

A passionate cricket lover who shifted base from India to Australia in quest of better prospects in his profession as a doctor, Harinath's story has been one of remarkable success.

“It is a great feeling to be part of history as SCG hosted its 100th Test, and for me it is more special considering it featured India,” said Harinath in a telephonic chat from Australia.

“This great ground has a history of producing some of the finest cricketing moments. And as an Australian of Indian origin, I was just hoping that the maestro, Sachin Tendulkar, would score his 100th international century here,” he said.

“I strongly believe that the SCG is the best in the world for its ambience. There is a unique mix of modern facilities with the age-old pavilion and the ladies' stand. As a spectator here, you feel that you are a part of the game, unlike at the MCG or the ground (Eden Gardens) in Kolkata. It has got something for batters and bowlers — both spin and fast. It is a spectator-friendly ground,” the CNSW Chairman said.

What has been Harinath's biggest contribution to SCG?

“It (the ground) belongs to the SCG Trust (a government body) and CNSW gets it on hire. We have a good working relationship with the Trust. My contribution to SCG is bringing one of the Sydney Grade Clubs (UTS-Balmain CC) into the SCG fold and now it is called Sydney Cricket Club, similar to the CCI (Mumbai), MCC (Lord's) and Melbourne Cricket Club (Melbourne). It is only three years old and I am sure we will catch up with others as time progresses,” he said.

“And if you look at the Australian team, CNSW contributes more than 50 percent of the players at any given time. We have a good pathway to nurture young talent and also have a strong grade competition which produces players who play for the State and then the Country,” Harinath said.

Harking back to the days when he moved to Australia, Harinath, 67, said that he began his journey in cricket administration as a club doctor with Balmain CC. “After a few years, I was elected to the club committee and later as the President of the club. I also served as Deputy Chairman of the Sydney Cricket Association.

“I got elected to the Board of CNSW in 2000 and in 2004 I was elected to the Board of Cricket Australia. In 2008, I was elected as Chairman of CNSW. You can see that I had to start from the scratch at the club level. The journey was never easy, but I had to prove that I was good if not better in administration. I had to contest elections at every stage and the members decided the rest.

“Definitely, I am humbled and privileged to be in the position that I am now and also grateful to the people who trusted me.”

On the possibility of youngsters from India, more importantly from his hometown Hyderabad, playing club cricket in Australia, Harinath said Sydney offered great opportunities for talented cricketers from India. According to him, they could join a club in Sydney and spend a season or two playing club cricket. “They can develop their skills and undergo advanced coaching. And if they are good enough, they can play for the State,” he said.

Talking of the honours he received, Harinath said: “It was a privilege and a huge honour for me when I was conferred the Order of Australia Medal in 2009. But the most memorable one obviously was when I was nominated as a Life Member of Cricket New South Wales. In the 150 years of CNSW history, only 120 were bestowed with this honour.”

What makes SCG so special?

“There is cricket in the air; you can almost feel it when the ground hosts matches, especially the big games. The backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and the world famous Opera House enhances the beauty of this ground. People love to come to an iconic ground that has world-class facilities and is spectator-friendly, and for the simple reason that the pitches here always offer something to both batsmen and bowlers,” he said.