In the current Reader’s Digest [April] there is an interesting article on Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, who was known to be a strict disciplinarian and I have heard of one the anecdotes that illustrates this.
During my school days in Bangalore in the early 1940s, my father told me of an incident involving the then Brigadier Cariappa and England’s Double International (Football and Cricket) Denis Compton.
During the Second World War (1939 to 1945), Denis Compton was stationed with the British Army at Mhow. Somewhere during that period Compton visited Bangalore with an Army Cricket Team. Brigadier Cariappa, the seniormost Army Officer then in Bangalore, had arranged a cricket match between the Army Team and what was perhaps a Mysore State Team.
Because of Compton’s reputation as a star English batsman, guests including school children had been invited to watch the match. My father, Dr. V. Subrahmanyan, who was then Professor of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science, was one of the invitees. Unfortunately for the spectators and the Army Team, Denis Compton was dismissed cheaply, very early in the match.
In sheer disgust, Compton flung his bat away and started to walk back towards the tents where the players and the guests were assembled. But he had reckoned without Brigadier Cariappa who would have none of this.
The Brigadier was on his feet in seconds and stopped the boy who was running to retrieve Compton’s bat. Then, in his best Parade Ground voice he shouted at Compton “What do you think you are doing? Go and pick up your bat.” Compton stopped in his tracks, took one look at the tall gaunt figure and meekly went back to do the needful.
I do not know if Denis Compton played again in Bangalore. The Army did allow him to play for the Holkar Ranji Trophy Team in 1945. In the Finals against Bombay, Compton scored a brilliant 249 not out. But Holkar lost because this innings was overshadowed by Vijay Merchant’s 279 not out in the same match.
– S. Sundaram, Yadavagiri, 10.4.2019
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