A group of middle-aged men are making waves in Manchester, and they’re all Indian. Meet the Trafford Metrovics third XI, a cricket team that is punching big in the Cheshire County League in north west England.
The 21-member squad is quite a staggering mix, comprising eight doctors, 10 IT professionals, one civil engineer, one accountant and a music enthusiast. They sure have the patience, drive, foundation, numbers and are on song.
Oh wait! Among these are 12 Telugu players, from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Anantapur and other areas. Awesome.
They are currently sitting atop the 15-team West Division table, having won all three of their matches so far in their debut season.
“We are kind of making a lot of news here. This is stemming from the fact that we still want to play… most of us are around 40 years old,” beams player-manager Chanukya Rajagopala.
Fittingly, they play 40-overs-a-side matches on Sundays that are well attended. “Our wives and kids come along to cheer us and it’s like a holiday for them. It more fun for them whilst we are playing serious cricket. With the families involved, we have become a social group as well,” Chanukya chuckles.
However, “it’s difficult to pick the playing XI. The leadership group sits down, analyses the opposition and discusses strategy — otherwise we just can’t compete with teenagers steaming in and bowling you see,” he laughs.
It all started in 2018 when Chanukya, along with captain Kalyan Chukkapalli, co-founded the Trafford Royals, which later became Royals.
"Manchester is growing in terms of Asian population — Indians, Pakistanis and the ones from Afghanistan, who are all cricket mad. In the last five or six years there has been a lot of unorganised cricket going on — crazy rules and tennis ball.
We played that for a year-and-a-half and started kind of getting frurstrated,” informs Chanukya, who organises concerts by Indian artistes and runs a music school too.
“Many of us have played some form of cricket at school or college and were dying to play proper cricket, a game that was part of our evolution back in India and one we hadn’t played for long.
We thought of setting up a club, pondered purchasing some ailing one by chipping in money.
We then got three friendly matches with the Trafford Metrovics, the chairman of which asked us if we’d be interested in joining them as the third team after he came to know of our plans to have our own club.
In terms of time scales, costing and everything, it was much cheaper to join an existing club.
“And the club have assured us that at no point will they ask us to take any other players. But we don’t want to be seen as discriminatory against anyone else and provide a level playing field. However, we will promote this among our community and push them to come and practice, train and be eligible for qualification,” Chanukya says.
The team has plans to “set up a conveyor belt to train youngsters as an academy and give a slight advantage to Indian youngsters.”
Way to go.
The team: Kalyan Chukkapalli (captain), Chanukya Rajagopala, Dr Aravind Komuravelli, Dr Brahma Peram, Dr Chetan Upadhyaya Belle, Dr Kiran Chandra, Dr Kishan Sharma, Dr Mahesh D Kumar, Dr Nishan Bhandary, Dr Shashi Chandra-shekaraiah, Malleswara Reddy, Naveen Kumar Alwala, Parvez Mirza, Pradeep Sathyanarayan, Praveen Pattisapu, Praveen Tyagi, Ramakrishna Maddi, Shailesh Kumar, Shivaji Rao Janasalay, Sreeshylam Pogaku and Vara Vantapati.