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 bowling average of 18.56 in 56 first class matches and 265 wickets.
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.