AFED’S DOWN THE MEMORY LANE
THE COMMUNITY SPORTS LEGENDS (Part 2)

Noorali  Jessa

He was a prolific batsman with vast potential. He captained the Ithnasheri Gymkhana for several years played for Zanzibar XI and led his side on many occasions.  It was under his captaincy that Zanzibar won the Pardhan Ladha Shield for the first time in 1951 against formidable Dar es Salaam XI. Mr. Noorali Jessa was essentially a dependable opening bat and executed his strokes, especially his latecuts, with admirable ability. He was sound wicket keeper too. Those with rich memory will not hesitate to pay tribute to his contributions.

His cricket career started at the tender age of 16 when he played for ‘A’ division. He passed away in Mombasa in 1969 bat in hand.

Pyarali Merali

Known by the entire Ithnasheri community as Pyaralibhai, this unique cricketer had participated at the highest possible levels during his era. Born in Lamu in 1920, he first played for Allidina Visram High School, Mombasa during 1935 to 1938, and the matches being played mostly on Saturdays.

Every year a shield match was played against Nairobi XI and in 1937 Pyaralibhai distinguished himself with an innings of 99. He made his debut for Ithnasheri Sports club in 1936 and played until 1940. In the season 1938 he took 151 wickets for the school and the club. His performances brought him to light and he was selected to play for Coast Asians against Coast Europeans in the annual ‘Test Matches’ from 1937 to 1940. Higher honors were still to come: Selected by Kenya Asians to play Kenya Europeans (an annual ‘Test’) at Nairobi in 1938 to 1940.

Two factors seem to hold up Pyaralibhai’s career after that: the Second World War, and the fact that in 1941 he migrated to Lamu on business reasons, and hence played no cricket during the period when he would have been at his peak for 8 years, until he came to Dar es Salaam in 1949. In that year he played for the Bohora Sports Club. His career with Ithnasheri Sports Club was tragically cut short due to back problems (slip disc trouble) and after serving union faithfully from 1950, he called it a day in 1954. In that time he played for the then Tanganyika against Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar.

There are some happenings that Pyaralibhai recollects vividly firstly in his very first match for Ithnasheri Sports Club against Sir Ali Muslim Club at Nairobi, he took 8 wickets in the first inning and 6 in the second, 14 wickets in that match. Once during the Ithnasheri‘s Championship year in 1954 playing against Goans, the Ithnasheries were all out for 47. Pyaralibhai then came into his own; taking the new ball, he rubbed it on the ground to remove the shine (Bedi and co. learnt it later), and spun his team to victory by 1 run. Bowling his leg spin, he was not afraid to flight the ball, and the batsmen were puzzled, not comprehending how to deal with him. He proved on that day that a cricket match can be won by positive play.   Another memorable opportunity was in 1939 when he was offered contract to play for Maharja of Patiala’s cricket team in India which he declined as he was intending to go on with higher studies. Perhaps he would have been world-famous name had he taken his chance, but then Pyaralibhai has never been one to gloat over his triumphs.

Pyaralibhai career was sadly cut short by a slipped disc injury at the end of 1954 season. Though the club actively lost his services in the field, he has served in various capacities of the Jamaat committees. For a most of the Ithnasheri Union gatherings the highlights have been tremendous in conducting himself as the Auction master.  

Gulamali Kermali (Kabana)

Kabana was one of the Zanzibar’s greatest bowlers. He monopolized the cricket scene in 1930’s and 1940’s. He was a medium pace bowler, moved the bowl in the air and would revert to his ”off spins”. He used to be a major wicket taker in all the matches that he had played. He won the covetous ball, the most prestigious cricket award in Zanzibar, for a record number of eleven times. In 1938 he took 9 wickets for 8 runs against Goans bowling them for mere 12 runs. In his long career during which he must have bowled thousands of overs he never got struck for a six, a record which he is proud of.

Incidentally once he split with the Ithnasheries and joined Comorians, that particular season Comorian emerged as the league champions.
 
Amir Gulamhussein

Amir is a tall, well-built and confident left arm extremely fast bowler. He moves the ball either way and gets close to the stumps as he delivers, enabling him to hit the stumps or claim the leg before decision if the batsman hits across the line. Made his debut for Zanzibar Ithnasheri Gymkhana in 1959 and was awarded “Best Bowler” trophy when he claimed 13 wickets in two matches against Mombasa Jaffery in 1961. Amir is the youngest brother of Marhum Akber Ghullamhussein, fondly known as Aku and Hussein Gulamhussein, famously known by the name of Chikley.

He played in England from 1966 to 1974.  He joined Union Sports Club on his return to Dar es Salaam in 1978 and was the backbone of Union’s bowling side, a shining star with several outstanding performances, 7 for 15 vs. Dar cricketers, 6 for 13 vs. coast gymkhana. He used to open the batting but later was batting lower down the order.

Extracted from:  Sports Festival Souvenir Book of December 1984

They were the heroes who made our community proud in the sports arena for many decades. Whilst on the field and off the field they were exemplary and inspiring sportsmen. Our young and upcoming sportsmen should emulate them. Please recite Sura-e-Fateha for the maghferat of the departed souls of Marhum Noorali Jessa, Marhum Pyarali Merali and Marhum Gulamali Kermali (Kabana) and all the Marhumeens.

We also pray and wish Amir Gulamhussein a long, healthy and successful life – Ameen.
 
Alhaj Murtaza Jivraj (Kerbala)
AFRICA FEDERATION ARCHIVES SECTION


23rd December 2016 (23rd Rabiul Awwal 1438 AH)

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