Considered the world's first limited over tournament, the All-India Pooja Cricket organised in Tripunithura near Kochi in Kerala [ Images ] completes 60 years of uninterrupted conduct this year.
The tournament, which had the patronage of the erstwhile Cochin Royal family during its formative years, was the brain child of K V Kelappan Thampuran, a former cricketer and the first Secretary of Kerala Cricket Association.
It was then organised by Princes Club, later renamed Tripunithura Cricket Club (TCC) after it was opened to general public, TCC former president and renowned umpire P V Ramachandran said.
The tournament was played at the Palace Oval Ground, which was given to the Princes Club by the then British Government. 'Ottoliparambu' as it was called, is still the name by which the ground is known among old-timers, he said.
Cricket is very popular in this part of the state and a proposal to take over a part of the ground for a canal project decades ago was turned down by then Public Works Department (PWD) minister Sahodaran Ayyappan considering its status.
Though there were cricket matches involving teams in the state, like the league matches in Cochin and the friendly games with the Europeans stationed at Fort Cochin, most of the games were a two-day affair, which had never produced a result, Ramachandran said.
Kelappan Thampuran came up with the idea of a 50-over limited over cricket tournament, without any sort of restriction for bowlers and this was implemented in the inaugural edition Pooja cricket tournament in 1951.
It was named Pooja tournament as it is organised during the Navaratri festival time, he said, adding TCC won the inaugural year title by defeating Kottayam Cricket Club.
The tournament has attracted some of the best players in the country including former captain Mohammad Azharuddin [ Images ], V B Chandrasekhar, Anil Kumble [ Images ], Sunil Joshi, Shivlal Yadav, present Senior Selection Committee chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth [ Images ], Venkatesh Prasad and Johnson.
For the silver jubilee, the club had hosted the first-ever women's cricket match in the state in which some of the leading players took part, he said.