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  • Writer's picturesri venkateswara charitable trust

Alphonsa Playground back in action

A passel of friends, some of them straight from work, are bringing Friday

night to a thwacking close. They are sending a tennis ball, pressed into cricket

duty tonight, packing around the playground on South Canal Bank Road.

For passersby that have never hoofed around the playground, it is just

another Greater Chennai Corporation-maintained facility. For successive

generations of youth that have tried out Dhoni’s iconic helicopter shot or

chopped like Messi, this rectangular piece of earth is hallowed ground: and

they call it “Alphonsa playground”.

Back to the game bearing all the marks of a friendly tussle. These friends have

made game inventive and pared to the minimum. The bowlers have one

stump to aim at. Each side falls noticeably short of the standard count of


With such numbers, a fielding side can cover only one-fourth of a regular

cricket ground. With the ground divided among many matches that are all a

fielding side need and can cover. And even a four-a-side match works just


Despite the limitations, almost all the shibboleths of cricket — modern-day

cricket — are on display, bright display. One of them is the defiance of the

natural order of light and darkness.

The ground is doused in generous floodlights, thanks largely to two high-

mast lamps, each parked on an extreme end of the playground for maximum

coverage. Other lights mark the outer bounds of the ground.

Habitués remark the powerful lighting is the highlight of the playground.

They add the lights stay on till the wee hours of the day. And knots of cricket

and football enthusiasts make the most of it with game after game of their

favourite sport in their corner, unmarked but clearly distinguished from the

rest of the ground.

The GCC playground on St. Mary’s Road, probably close to two kilometers

away, and this one together serve two vast zones contiguous with one


Notable areas in these zones include Mylapore, Mandavelipakkam, RA Puram,

Alwarpet, Foreshore Estate, MRC Nagar, Adyar, Besant Nagar and

Thiruvanmiyur. And of course, residents from beyond these zones also

extend their patronage to it.

By virtue of being more centrally located, in addition to hosting sports

enthusiasts from Mandaveli and Mylapore, the South Canal Bank Road

playground also draws in great numbers those from Foreshore Estate, Adyar,

Besant Nagar and even Thiruvanmiyur.

The ground is located on the section of South Canal Bank Road that is just a

whistle away from Santhome High Road and Marina Loop Road. Thanks to its

coordinates, it serves sports enthusiasts on two sides of the arterial

Santhome High Road; and beyond too.

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