Poacher and Gamekeeper

Malaysian national squad member and current captain of Selangor State, Venu Ramadass, 27, talks about life as a player for a developing cricketing nation and as an executive for The Asian Cricket Council.

“I am very proud to be a Malaysian and there is no better feeling than representing your beloved country."

When did you first start playing cricket?
“I started playing at 14, never thinking I could be a national cricketer yet within three years I was.”

With the ACC's Ganesan Sundrammoorthy and Sachin Tendulkar at the Asia Cup 2004

The standard wasn't very high?!

"Actually, I was pretty good. I had some excellent coaching from K.M. Satchi, my coach until now, in fact and from Mumtaz Yusuf, our Malaysian team coach then. Mr. Satchi coached Malaysia's captain, Suresh Navaratnam also.”

What actually made you take up cricket at 14, which is a relatively late age?
“I went to a high school which actually played cricket. Here in Malaysia, football is the most common sport; cricket was much harder to come by in those days than it is now. My uncle was coaching at the school and I'd go watch the team play, pick up a few balls, field a bit. No one taught me how to bowl, but I picked it up somehow. ‘Straight arm, run-up, release.’ My Kajang Club (KIC), they trained once a week but they never let me play! But I did everything else, grounds-man one year, then scorer the next. We had a matting wicket then, its astroturf now.”

Does anyone still play on matting?
“No. The MCA (Malaysian Cricket Association) and the other sporting bodies have put a lot of money and effort into the game to make sure that Malaysia has proper cricket wickets.”

Was it just players with an Indian background who played?
“There were some Malay & Chinese boys who were really good. Chew Pok Chong stood out and of the current batch; players like Saiful Hawari, Ezsrafiq and Shukri are a few of the Malay boys who shone.”

Where is Chew Pok Chong now?
“Sarawak, coaching cricket. He also recently went for the ACC level 1 Coaching Course in Bangkok.”

Are there any kinds of broad defining characteristics for the players of different backgrounds?
“Well, Malay boys tend to be really good fielders and the Chinese boys are pretty brave.”

Next Page | “Those countries which have a cricket culture, a sports culture have so much strength in depth that sometimes I wonder how Malaysia can compete.”