The Football Fanatics,.
Review appeared in The asian age today
A minority community in India – only about 60,000 live there now – Parsis are the pioneers of cricket in India. Being anglophile in the 19th century, they were the first to learn the game of cricket from the Englishmen. When the Hindus and Muslims had little idea of what cricket was all about, the Parsis took a cricket team to England in 1886.
That was much before the legendary Ranji and Duleep mesmerised Englishmen with their elegant run-making.
Originally from Iran, the Parsis (also called Zoroastrians) – followers of prophet Zoroaster – settled in India about 1200 years ago because of religious persecution in Iran.
In all, 11 Parsis have played Test matches for India from 1932 (the first ever Test India played) to 1975. In alphabetical order they are: Soli Colah (2 Tests), Nari Contractor (31), Farokh Engineer (46), Jehangir Irani (2), Rustomji Jamshedji (1), Kharshed Meherhomji (1), Rusi Modi (10), Piloo Palia (2), Rusi Surti (26), Keki Tarapore (1) and Polly Umrigar (59).
Three of them; Engineer, Meherhomji and Irani were wicket-keepers.
Only Contractor (aged 84 years) and Engineer (80 years) are now alive. Umrigar and Contractor captained India with distinction. Handsome Farokh Engineer was a flamboyant personality, scoring runs aggressively and keeping wickets like an acrobat.
Enough is written on a majority of these Parsi Test cricketers. This article features two less known Parsi cricketers who played only one Test each and while batting, remained unbeaten.
As I reported in Parsiana magazine (India) earlier this month, two “ji”s of Indian cricket were unique characters. Both were good-looking Parsis, one was a slow left arm spinner, the other a wicket-keeper and a dare devil batsman – an earlier day Farokh Engineer.
They were Rustomji Jamshedji Dorabli Jamshedji (1892-1976) and my uncle the dashing debonair Kharshed Rustomji Meherhomji (1911-1982).
Jamshedji the first Parsi left-arm spinner
Jamshedji was the third Parsi to play Test cricket. The first two were Sorabji (Soli) HM Colah and Phiroz (Piloo) E Palia who were selected in the first ever Test match for India; against England at Lord’s in London in June 1932.
Jamshedji played only one Test, on Bombay Gymkhana in December 1933, the first Test on Indian soil.
Click here for the full article with some interesting pics and facts
Veteran Athlete Khurshid Mistry has achieved another milestone. She had represented India in the Thailand Masters Athletic Championship 2018 which was held at Lampang Main Stadium, Thailand from March 9 to 11. 2018. Several Countries had participated in the International Meet.
Khurshid gave a stupendous performance by winning 3 Gold Medals in 400 mts, 200 mts and 4100 mts Relay and 2 Silver Medals in 100 mts and 4400 mts Relay under her age category.
In the past 8 years Khurshid has participated in 5 International Competitions including the World Masters Games in 2017.
On Khurshid’s success, her Coach, Dinanath Maurya said “ Khurshid has been training with me since the past eight years and she is my only student who does Sprinting and Marathon running and excels in both the activities. She is extremely sincere, dedicated and focused. Once a goal is set she will go all out to achieve the same. She rarely misses her training sessions. In the past 8 years she has got a numbers of injuries but every time she has emerged stronger and never given up. She is an inspiration to other younger athletes.”
On winning the International Meet, Khurshid said,” After Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018 I got just one months time to train for this competition. However this time my fitness level was very good which helped me in my Sprinting training. International competitions are always a very good experience where we meet athletes from different countries and get a chance to interact and learn from them. The International Meet at Thailand was challenging and satisfying. Competing with the best athletes from different Countries gives an adrenaline high and winning the events a sense of achievement and fulfillment. Sprinting is my forte and I thoroughly enjoy the sport.“
Clearly Khurshid is chasing her goals with utmost determination. Keep going.
From Jisr Benat Yakub, Tiberias, on the sea of Gallillee, is 24 miles. The mid-day sun had not yet attained its zenith in the sky when we found ourselves listening to the music of the waves of the sea munching our rude fare. A time there was when the shores of this lake were hemmed in by busy bustling and thriving towns. Today Tiberias and one or two squalid villages only stand sentinel over the waters of this lake. The Sea of Gallillee is really a lake, measuring 14 miles from north to south and has an average width of 6 miles. It lies 680 ft below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. At its north end, the River Jordan enters through a delta of its own deposit; the river resumes its southerly course and pours its contents into the Dead Sea. It was in the vicinity of the Sea of Gallillee that the Blessed Redeemer opened his career and gave to the world his immortal parables of the lost Sheep and of the net. Of the Sower the Wheat and the Tares, of the Grain of Mustard seed and to the Lilies, which toil not, nor spin. These flowers more glorious than the Soloman glory still abound in the vicinity of this hallowed lake.
Leaving Tiberias, that afternoon we had to encounter steep gradients. The uneven nature of this district entails considerable hardships on the travellers. The redeeming feature of the tour through these regions is abundance of fruits. Passing Kefr Kenna en route we arrived at Nazareth. If Kefr Kenna be what many believe it, namely, the true Cana of Gallilee then it was at this place that Lord Jesus performed his first miracle at the marriage feast. Nazareth is too well known throughout Christendom to need any mention in detail. It was at Nazareth that Jesus spent his early days. We find no mention of this place in the Old Testament. When Lord Jesus moved and taught Nazarene was an epithet of derision. We did not tarry long at Nazareth. However, we paid a visit to the renowned Church of the Annunciation situated within the precincts of the Latin Monastery. The building is 69 ft long, 48 ft wide with marble steps on either side leading to the high altar. Below it is the Crypt. From here we reached the Chapel of Angel and the Chapel of Annunciation. Another place of interest in the vicinity of the orthodox Church of Annunciation is a spring the waters of which are conveyed to Ain-Miriam, or Mary’s well. The well undoubtedly is the one frequented by the Virgin. Even today the pretty Nazarene women strut about this place with their pitchers, which they fill from the fountain. We did not stay for more than a couple of hours at Nazareth.
There is little of interest to be seen in the Senai Desert. We came across the carcass of camels, lying half embedded in the white sand, relics of some dumb creatures, perhaps slain to solve the problem of water in the desert. They bore adequate testimony to risk both man and animal alike ran in their journey. From Rafa we came to El Arish and then proceeded to Maaden. Before we reached Maaden, we were caught in a sand storm. By the time we emerged from the storm, which fortunately for us was of short duration, we were powdered from top to toe with sand. We retraced our last route with difficulty and proceeded. When weather is very rough, even camels find it difficult to make any headway. These poor beasts of burden turn round every now and then as a blast of wind sweeps into their unprotected eyes and nostrils, the piercing sand of the desert. Then once again they turn round and proceed on their irksome journey. Even the native Bedouine— born and brought up in the desert—is seen walking along the railroad and shunning the interior, when the risk of being lost in the sand dunes is very great. En route we passed railway stations, which had been closed for want of traffic or trade. We passed Mazar, walking and leading our bikes of course with our eyes stuck fast to the rails. We passed El Abd with our eyes still glued to the rails. Romani was passed and yet our eyes could not be removed from the rails. Only a few miles from the Kantara East we got good metalled road. That afternoon in Kantara we halted at a shopkeeper’s place.
Bhumgara took a dip into the Suez Canal, swimming the distance between Kantara East and Kantara West. The cycles were transported by a ferry to the opposite shore. At the Egyptian Customs House of Kantara West, a duty of half-a-pound was levied on our machines on which a seal of the Customs Authority was affixed. We were told we would be entitled to a refund of the duty if within six months of our entry we left the country with our bikes. The seals affixed were for identification of the machines. This seal is to be valued at half-a-pound; you smash the seal in a fall and your half-pound disappears instantly into the government treasury.
Dara Hakim’s father was not one to boast about or even dwell on the epic journey he, along with his companions, had undertaken as a young man. Only after much goading by Dara and his six younger brothers would Adi Hakim occasionally regale them with an anecdote or two. Usually, they were exhorted to go and “have adventures of their own”. Dara attributes his father’s reserve and modesty to his humble background. Like his fellow adventurers, whom he first met at the Bombay Weightlifting Club, Adi Hakim came from a solid middle-class background.
Livemint – First Published: Sat, Apr 12 2008. 12 07 AM IST
Thanks to Savukshaw, things took such unusual proceedings that MCC’s annual ball budget took a serious toll.
Few have depicted pre-globalisation Bombay — for Mumbai it used to be in those days — like Rohinton Mistry in his award-winning Tales from Firozsha Baag. The collection consists of eleven delightful stories based in a Parsee-dominated colony (called Firozsha Baag, as you may have figured out). The stories are intertwined in the sense that the same set of people appear in almost all stories, but every story centres around one character or family.
There is, in fact, one titled Of White Hairs and Cricket, but this is not about that one. Our story goes by the name Squatter. It features Nariman Hansotia, who drove a 1932 Mercedes-Benz, sported a Clark Gable moustache, and told intriguing stories (that sometimes bordered on the lines of extreme creativity) to the children and adolescents of the colony.
Squatter features two stories by Nariman Hansotia. This is the shorter one.
Nariman Hansotia was not impressed by the fact that they were impressed by “Contractor [whose first name was also Nariman], Polly Umrigar, and recently, the young chap, Farokh Engineer.” He insisted that there was one Savukshaw, “the greatest of them all”.
The story tells the tale of an Indian tour of England. India were led by Contractor. This was obviously not possible, since Contractor had never led India on a tour of England. But then, though the characters (or most of them) are real in Nariman Hansotia’s world, there is no claim that the events are.
Unfortunately, Nadkarni (Bapu?), India’s star batsman, was down with influenza. MCC scored 497. India, after being bowled out for 109 (Nadkarni’s replacement had to retire hurt after being hit by a bumper), were asked to bat again. When India were 38 for 5, still 350 runs away from making MCC bat again, Savukshaw walked out to bat.
He left the first ball outside off (“but with what style! what panache!”). He did the same with the next with “boredom written all over him”. Then came the third ball, a straight, quick delivery, aimed at the stumps.
Savukshaw flicked the ball at tremendous pace. The fielder there was six feet seven inches tall, weighed 250 lbs, and nothing had gone past him in the match. But Savukshaw had intentionally hit it towards the fielder, whose gargantuan palm came down to pouch the ball…
But that was it. The fielder erupted in “a howl that rang through the entire stadium, that soared like the cry of a banshee right up to the cheapest seats in the furthest, highest corners … into the pavilion, into the kitchen.” The cook inside the kitchen was injured after spilling boiled water on himself.
As for the fielder, he was bleeding as profusely as any seen in the history, “like a fountain in an Italian piazza, like a burst water-main from the Vihar-Powai reservoir.” There was tremendous blood loss, soaking the fielder’s flannels and the grass.
But what about the ball? It lay peacefully just beyond the boundary line. ’It’ is probably not the best possible objective, for it had split neatly into halves. The stitches had come off, and most of its innards had spilled out.
That was it. As the match continued, Savukshaw hit the ball with at least as much power. The fielders had no intention to stop the shots. One replacement ball after every stroke, which meant MCC’s “annual ball budget was thrown badly out of balance.”
India saved the innings defeat. In fact, if there was time they might have won it.
But how did the bat survive the onslaught? Obviously because it was no ordinary bat. Savukshaw used a special oil, the formula of which he had acquired from a cricket-talent-scouting sadhu. Despite the bat, however, Savukshaw insisted that the real secret to his success was hard work and hours of practice.
Unfortunately, Savukshaw quit cricket soon afterwards to become a cyclist, to nobody’s surprise the fastest in the world. After a short stint with pole-vault he switched to become a hunter. He could shave the whisker of a cat in the backyard of C Block (of Firozsha Baag, of course) from the third floor of A Block. He would later move on from that as well to another profession, one where he would earn the moniker of Parsi Picasso…
Parsi Gymkhana returns to cricket roots under Khodadad
Since its founding in 1884, the Parsi Gymkhana in Mumbai has been a centre for Parsi cricket and served as a platform for stalwarts like Farokh Engineer, Nari Contractor and Polly Umrigar.
132 years since its founding, a new generation of champions such as Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Aavishkar Salvi have emerged to carry on the legacy.
“I became a member in the year 1984 and played from 1985 to 1991,” recalls Khodadad Yazdegardi, vice-president of the Parsi Gymkhana and secretary of cricket. “Our side comprised of all Parsis in the playing XI and maybe two non-Parsis in the whole squad.”
As time passed, cricket began to play a smaller role in the club, with participation declining. Some left the sport, others went abroad and fewer Parsis turned up to play. “Maybe there was a lot of pressure to study or maybe the youngsters chose football.”
The gymkhana decided to revive interest in cricket and in 2011, the president and managing committee approached Khodadad. “When I took over in 2011, most of the boys decided to leave when they saw the (previous) secretary leave. Fortunately, the Kanga League was a washout that year and then I approached Zubin Barucha, my old friend and captain, to get me a good coach,” says Khodadad.
Finding the right coaches
His search led to Omkar Salvi, who went on to play an instrumental role in revitalising the team. Salvi, however, moved on to become the bowling coach of Mumbai and Khodadad found a suitable replacement in Vinayak Mane. “From the very first day, I was clear in my mind that the process is important and not the final results,” says Khodadad. He and Mane set about creating a culture that would bring new life into the side. “I want every boy who wants to play for Mumbai to aim to play for the Parsi Gymkhana.”
“The administration showed great interest and the cricket committee was very supportive of grooming cricketers for the club,” says Mane, now the Mumbai U-16 coach. He talks about the various changes that were brought into place, including the arrival of Dr Makarand Waingankar and physician Dr Kinjal Suratwala.
Parsi Gymkhana team posing for a picture after winning the 2017 Padmakar Talim Shield Cricket Tournament. Photo credit: Khodadad Yazdegardi
Hard work pays off
The next few years saw rapid changes come to pass, with modern facilities and right techniques introduced. Today, the Parsi Gymkhana is back in the ‘A’ Division, having won the A. F. S. Talyarkhan three years in a row, and, after a gap of almost 70 years, entering the finals of the Talim Shield and Purshottam Shield cricket tournaments.
“I think it’s a great club,” says Aditya Tare, Ranji player and captain of the squad, when asked what it’s like to be associated with the gymkhana. “It is one of the pioneers of Mumbai cricket and has a rich history. It is also a very motivated club and wants to do well. We have got a couple of terrific coaches and as a professional cricketer; the facilities that they provide at the club level are phenomenal.”
Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr started playing for the gymkhana U-19 team and got his break when selected for the Mumbai Ranji team. “The kind of approach and preparation towards the game is totally different now,” he speaks on the changes. “The interaction between the coaches and the players personally is a lot more and coaches like Vinayak (Mane) and Omkar Salvi are the kind you want on your team.”
As their performance improved, Khodadad noticed a pleasant change. “I’ve seen a lot of members come to watch our matches now. Lots of members used to come every Sunday to watch our games and now for the last two years, I’ve seen them begin returning.”
The future looks bright with several players already advanced to the higher level of cricket and many more probables in the wings. “I am a firm believer that everything is secondary in life to a person’s character and sports build character,” Khodadad shares.
“Besides cricket, I try to inculcate a very strong character in all the boys. We try to make them so mentally strong out here that nothing bothers them. When these boys play, their performance will carry them through. Four of my boys play Ranji Trophy today and it’s all been on pure performance.”
Parsi Gymkhana players get together after winning the 2016 R.F.S. Talyarkhan Memorial Invitation Cricket Tournament. Photo credit: Khodadad Yazdegardi
More than the professional atmosphere and fantastic facilities, the team comes across as a close-knit unit that is always ready to support each other. This feeling comes across clearly when Khodadad speaks passionately about ‘his boys’. “More than anything else,” says Khodadad, “you know these boys are like a family. We back each other always, even if the boy is not playing in the side. If a boy fails, we still back him.”
“The team dynamics here are brilliant,” says Sandhu. “All the seniors are approachable and the communication level is really good. These guys are open to sharing their thoughts and experiences. I think the management understands the player really well too.”
Mane seconds his thoughts. “I’d like to mention (Aditya) Tare, Aavishkar (Salvi),Ballu (Balwinder Singh Sandhu) and Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), their experience, knowledge and commitment set an example for the others on how to approach club cricket even after playing at a higher level. They are helping the team grow year after year.”
“The commitment the players show is tremendous,” observes Mane. “We have all been brought up like that and show this commitment at whatever level we play. Now, we have a good set of players which will produce good cricketers who will play for Mumbai and maybe the country.”
Khodadad has a bigger aim for the club. “The main thing is to make sure any boy who aims to play a good level of cricket will try to get in the Parsi Gymkhana team and work hard because here, we eat, breathe and train cricket.”
Tare validates Khodadad’s claims. “As a cricketer what we require is good facilities to practise, good coaches, good grounds and pitches and the Parsi Gymkhana ticks all the boxes. Khododad and the administrators are open-minded and accepting and it helps as a player to have that support system,” he concludes.
Get ready TODAY for the Z Unity Cup in September!
Details are below:
What: 10th Zoroastrian Unity Cup – Soccer Tournament
When: September 2-3, 2017
Where: Aviation Park, Redondo Beach, CA, USA
Registration: $95 USD – early bird pricing ends June 25th
Team Members: 6 (min) – 8 (max) and can be co-ed or sign up as an Individual Participant
Zoroastrian Society of Ontario