"Cricket was his religion and the Madras Cricket Club was his Church” it was said of one of its most illustrious members since its inception in 1846. Inextricably entwined with the history of Madras (and later Tamil Nadu) Cricket, the institution founded by that eminent civil servant, Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, largely to fill the Englishman’s need for a home away from home, continues to mean as much to its members today as it did 150 years ago.
For nearly a hundred years, the club remained an exclusive preserve of the ‘Europeans’, opening its doors to Indian members only when the first winds of Independence began to sweep across the country. During those hundred years, it had played its role to perfection – that of promoting and developing not only cricket but also hockey and tennis and squash. In fact, the Madras Cricket Club was instrumental in giving direction to every sport gaining ground in the Presidency. It had maintained the Chepauk cricket ground with loving care; those who played on it or watched cricket on it in its pre-stadium days remember with nostalgia its perfect outfield surrounded by trees, its sporting wicket and its picturesque old pavilion. From its earlier days until the Madras Cricket Association gradually took over the administration of the sport – and even then it was led by MCC members – the club it was that organized all representative cricket, playing host to national and international teams. It set an example by conducting matches with clockwork precision and smooth efficiency. It continues to conduct a prestigious all-Indian Hockey tournament which is over a hundred years old. It is the home of South Indian Squash and, boasting of one of the best facilities in the country, it hosts tournaments with great success. For years the MCC Tennis tournament provided some of the best competition in that game.