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Cotah Ramaswami: Only sportsman to represent India both in tennis and cricket

Cotah Ramaswami: Only sportsman to represent India both in tennis and cricket

C.C. Chengappa

Published: 9 Feb 2021 6:19 AM GMT

Coming through the ranks of school, a majority of people love playing a multitude of sports and engaging in physical activity. It is true that balancing between multiple sports is tough given that injuries could be frequent alongside academics and personal issues. However, there are people who manage to put their heads above the water and enjoy their lives while playing what they love. Cotah Ramaswami is a testament to how multitasking can take an individual a long way in not just achieving personal accolades but also serving those around them in the best possible way.

He was born in 1896 and grew up in Madras. An early family tragedy resulted in him being given for adoption to his maternal grandfather. This also explains the reason why his surname is different from his father, Buchi Babu Naidu,(father of South Indian Cricket). Notably, Buchi Naidu’s passion for cricket was pursued by his two brothers, 4 nephews, and his son, all of whom ended up playing first-class cricket in India.

Ramaswami joined Cambridge University in 1919 and initially played Tennis for his college before going on to represent India. He won the singles event at the prestigious Doherty Open Championship. He was awarded a ‘half blue’ from the college for his contribution to Tennis and was subsequently awarded a blue the following year in 1921. He continued playing for Cambridge until he went on to be selected to represent India in the Davis Cup. India lost out in the second round but Cotah Ramaswami won all the matches he played.

He returned to Madras in early 1924 and began working with the Agricultural Department for the next 2 decades where he served in different capacities across the state. However, it wasn’t all about work for him. In 1936 he made his first appearance in a test match at the age of 40. He scored a stunning 40 and 60 over two innings on his debut and ended his short career with a batting average of 56.

He was widely regarded as an extremely attacking player and it was this reputation that was a reality for him when he scored 83 against Jack Ryders Australian Services 11 in 1935-36. It was a very strange yet short-lived career for such a promising player.

Ramaswami did not end his association with the Indian Cricket Team after he stopped playing for India. He also served as a team selector and manager in 1952 for the Indian Team tour to the West Indies and continued as an advisor well into the late 70s and 80s. For one to truly understand his life, it is well worth reading the Ramblings of a Games Addict which is his autobiography and reflects on his life with sport.

Cotah Ramaswamy’s whereabouts are mysterious given that he left his home one fine morning in October 1985 and was never seen again. However, the biggest mystery yet is what he would have accomplished had he been a regular player for the Indian Cricket Team. There is no doubt that his talent went to waste but it is important to cherish his contribution as India’s first double international in sports. He truly was the first of few multitalented individuals to walk down the path of excellence in all endeavors.

Also read: Who is Astra Sharma, the Indian origin tennis player making waves in Australia?

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