Ask any Vizag cricketing enthusiast who has played first-grade cricket and they will recall the Major Ebden Memorial Cup that is still played annually in Waltair. Drawing entries from college teams in and around Vizag, many promising cricket players have honed their skills through the history of this tournament with its final played at the Ebden Memorial Sports Complex at Andhra Medical College (AMC).
Major John Alfred Wylde Ebden IMS, MD, MS, FRCS Principal of AMC 1933-1936 and renowned Professor of Surgery. He entered the Indian Medical Service in 1929 with the rank of captain and was seconded to the Madras Government as a Specialist in Surgery at the Deccan District Jubbulpore Military Hospital in 1930. In 1932, he was promoted to Major in the IMS and Major Ebden was appointed Principal of the Vizagapatam Medical College in 1933, was the professor of Surgery and was also the chief architect of the college in its formative years.
During this time in Vizag, Major Ebden was the Chief Medical Officer of Vizagapatam Harbour construction and supervised the study of malaria and mosquitos from Lova Thota affecting the harbour labour force.
In 1940, the Senate of the Andhra University approved the striking of The Major Ebden Memorial Medal with his effigy embossed to perpetuate his memory. The award was for the ‘best candidate of the year’ in the Medical College, but past winners are difficult to identify. In 1940, an outpatients block was opened at KGH and was named the Ebden Block in memory of a much-admired Major Ebden IMS.
As a sports admirer, Major Ebden encouraged medical students and faculty members to involve themselves in games like tennis and cricket. The Major Ebden Memorial Cricket Tournament was started in 1941. Cricket matches were regularly organised during the season of October-December at the Andhra Medical College and the Andhra University grounds. Teams from various distant towns used to participate to win the big attractive all-silver trophy – the Major Ebden Memorial Cricket Cup. Maharajah College, Vizianagaram, Mrs AVN College, Andhra University, Government PR College, Kakinada Arts College, Rajahmundry Law College, Panchiappa’s College, and Medical College, Madras, along with the host Andhra Medical College teams, were regular participants for the trophy. These days, college participation has evolved to include AU College of Engineering, Gayatri Degree College, GITAM Dental College, GITAM College of Engineering, Maharaja Medical College, Gandhi Medical College (Hyderabad), GSL Medical College (Rajamundry), Rangaraya Medical College and Ideal College (Kakinada),
AMC’s cricketers were renowned for repeatedly winning this trophy and some of Vizag’s well-known doctors may well be part of the 1962 winning team pictured. Principal Dr Pinammaneni Narasimha Rao is seated in the centre and Captain Y Krishna is on his right.
A group photograph of the 1965-66 finalists shows the Andhra University Colleges team who beat their traditional rivals the AMC team with Chief Guest at the final, Sri R Narayanaswami, Dy Inspector General of Police. Several of Vizag’s cricketing notables are in the group, including Hamsala Anjaneya Prasad (AU), Kallury Narayana, Y Krishna, Md Tajuddin Khan, S Jagdish Prasad (Jaggu), MN Patrudu, Diwaker, also standing B Ramakrishna, I Ramachandra Rao, P Chinnadri, Somanadha Sarma, BVSN Raju, K Muralidhar and A Narayanaswamy of AMC. In the AU Colleges group are K Srinavas Rao, K Chandrasekhar Raju, PR Narayanaswami, D Karunakar, Bendapudi Mallikarjuna rao, P Ramseshu and K Shankar.
Vizag’s legendary cricket administrator, Narayanswami Rajagopal Pondamalli recalls leading the Andhra University Colleges team to victory over AMC in the 1971-72 final. He was presented the Major Ebden Cup by Mrs Rathnam, wife of Dr Kamramchetty Suryanaryana who, as AMC Principal, must have been irked at the loss by AMC.
As Vizag increasingly hosts first-class and international cricket matches, it is worth noting that the game in Vizag had its beginnings in 1874 with the first game in the history books played on the maidan opposite St Aloysius High School between the 7th Madras Infantry and the Godavari Volunteer Rifles.
Should you have an anecdote or history on Vizag, the author would appreciate you contacting him at [email protected]
Written by John Castellas, whose family belonged to Vizag for five generations. Educated at St Aloysius, migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1966, former General Manager of Engineering at Boeing & Qantas Airways, in retirement Lecturers in Aviation Management at Swinburne University and is a Vizag aficionado.
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