‘Tis the Season to Cry-Cricket Bids Farewell to Legends by Aslam Khota
Yet another page closed on the golden age of non-racial cricket in July when the fraternity learnt of the passing of ‘Springboks’ Mahmood ‘Koeka’ Bulbulia (80) who passed away in Mumbai and Abdul Samad ‘Sam’ Bulbulia (82) who breathed his last at a clinic in Johannesburg. They followed their ex-teammate, Capetonian John James ‘Coetie’ Neethling who was 82 when he passed away in June. They played in that period in the late 1950’s and had the honour of representing the South African team under the late Basil D’Oliveira. They played a series of home and away ‘Tests’ against the Kenyan national team. Koeka and Sam played in one test and the outstanding Neethling played in all three.
Earlier this year cricket also bid farewell to Ismail ‘Chota’ Sader (72), Hassiem ‘Rosie’ Rasdien (80), Dr Abu Baker Patel (93) and Abdul Kader Saloojee (77). Earlier this month we heard the shocking news of the death of star all-rounder of the 1980’s, Nazir Dindar, who had passed away in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He turned 49 in February.
Koeka was an opening batsman and as a six-footer, bowled medium-fast off and leg-cutters. He formed a lethal bowling partnership with Abham Akhalwaya, another six-footer, for Zulfikaar Cricket Club. In 1959 he went to England and thereafter to India to look after the family interests. He remained in India for over sixty years coming to South Africa intermittently.
Sam was a product of Vrededorp ‘Fietas’ and was a stalwart of Crescents Cricket Club where he developed the finer instincts of an opening batsman. He played club cricket into his early thirties but was forced to retire after being hit on an eye from a delivery by Solly Chothia.
Sam was honoured for his services to the game by being named an Honorary Life Vice-President of the Gauteng Cricket Boardin 2012 and was also one of the inaugural recipients of CSA’s Heritage Blazers in 2014. These blazers acknowledge the players who represented their national federations before unity.
Neethling, a teacher by profession was one of the best all-rounders of his era. But there was another side of him too – that of a naturally talented sportsman who, when togged out in either a soccer shorts or cricket whites, could mix it with the roughest, toughest opponents.
He was an outstanding striker for Nelson FC and the Central Union board side, he ranked among the best in the Western Cape – before he decided to concentrate on cricket. His fitness allowed him to play provincial cricket into his early 40’s.Coetie represented SACBOC in all three “Tests” – two against Kenya and one against East Africa. Along with D’Oliveira, he proved to be a great all-rounder on the tour.
Chota Sader played for Krugersdorp and Kismet cricket club. He was a fine wicket-keeper/batsman and when Ebrahim ‘Chicken’ Bhamjee and Moosa Mangera were withdrawn from the Transvaal team for the coastal tour, he won three provincial caps.
South Africa lost another struggle icon, community servant and cricketer, when Dr Patel succumbed to illness and old age.
He was born in India and as a young child moved to Johannesburg with his uncle after being orphaned at the age of six. He was a model student and in the early 1940’s went on to study BSc at Fort Hare University during the war years. He eventually qualified as a medical doctor at Wits University in 1951 and was among the first Indians to qualify at that institution. His studies were interrupted for a while when he chose to give up his medical career to join the political struggle. At that time he served the Transvaal Indian Congress as its secretary. However it took stalwart struggle heroes Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Molvi Cachalia to intervene and Patel resumed studies and completed his degree. His political activity made him an associate of the likes of Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. After his release from Robben Island, Ahmed Kathrada was a frequent visitor to the Patel household.
Patel was vehemently opposed to the amalgamation of rival cricket bodies, SACBOC and SACU, in 1975/76 when they attempted ‘unity’ in the sport at the height of apartheid and uprisings in the country.
He was an opening batsman of note and was a superb close-in fielder and a fine leg-break bowler. He represented the Transvaal Indians in a few of the tournaments. He played most of his cricket for Kohinoor Cricket Club. Patel served the community of Everton outside of Vereeniging until his retirement at the age of 82! His son Khaleeb played for Cavaliers and represented Transvaal ‘B’ in the Booley Bowl.
Saloojee was a reliable and solid right-hander that batted in the top-order. He qualified as teacher at the Transvaal Teachers Training College in Johannesburg.
It was just sheer co-incidence that his postings to Potchefstroom, Schweitzer Reneke and Bloemhof were country towns with a rich cricketing heritage. After a short stint in Johannesburg where he gained colours for the Wits Union teams, he then moved south to Cape Town where he played some of his best cricket. With the anomalies of the absurd apartheid system, Saloojee of Indian heritage found himself in the Western Province Coloured Union team under D’ Oliveira. His consistency then gained him colours for the South African Coloured XI.
Saloojee was a restless and enigmatic character. He suddenly moved to Zambia at the peak of his powers where he took up a teachers post and played with much acclaim in the local leagues. He eventually settled in Brisbane where he lived out the rest of his days. He was the younger brother of former Griqualand West and South African Cricket Board of Control (SACBOC)) all-rounder Suliman ‘Solly’ Saloojee.
Perhaps the finest and most popular sportsman of his time was undoubtedly the evergreen
Rosie Rasdien. He completed matric in Krause StreetHigh School in Vrededorp, Johannesburg. He later qualified as a teacher at the EuAfrican Training Centre (ETC).
As a multi-talented sportsman, Rasdien had the unique distinction of being one of few triple ‘Springboks where he excelled in cricket, soccer and rugby. He represented the SA Malays and Transvaal in all three codes. In the 1961/62 Dadabhay Tournament in Johannesburg, he scored 112 for Transvaal in their innings win over against Eastern Province. With ‘Tiffie’ Barnes (72) he added 163 runs for the seventh wicket.
He was undoubtedly one of South Africa’s greatest sportsman in the 1950s and 1960s and throngs would pack sports fields all around the country to watch him in action.
He was a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, superb fielder in the Jonty Rhodes mould and a canny seam bowler. In soccer he was a graceful mid-fielder, pleasing to the eye with a thunderous right-foot shot and was a dazzling rugby player.
He was one of the twelve ex-cricketers who were the first recipients to be awarded a Heritage Blazer, at Cricket South Africa’s awards evening, in July 2014. Rasdien was among the pioneers of the development of the Muslim community of Bosmont.
Nazir Dindar’s Transvaal teammates and friends were inconsolable as the news of his passing broke on the morning of 6th July. The former Transvaal and South African Cricket Board (SACB) cricketer had settled in the UK 15 years back, was working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the time of is passing. He was 49. Social media was jammed over a number of days where former provincial cricketers and friends from around the country paid handsome tribute to a true gentleman and a cricketer of immense talent.
Dindar moved from Middelburg and attended Lenasia High School. As a junior he played club cricket for Queensland under the watchful eye of Ali Osmany. However his brilliant performances then prompted a move to Pirates Cricket Club where he enjoyed huge success and provincial colours.
Dindar was a star all-rounder and was a left handed batsman in the middle-order and was a right-arm fast swing bowler. Together with Jack Manack and Barney Mohamed, they combined as a lethal triumvirate in many memorable matches for Transvaal in the Howa Bowl. Dindar was a brilliant batsman and scored a superb fighting century in Lenasia against a rampant Western Province team to register his provincial best of 132 not out. He score 970 runs and took 64 wickets in provincial matches. Dindar was selected as 12th man for the South African Cricket Board (SACB) team in 1989.
He played as a professional in Scotland and England for four seasons and qualified as a coach in Lilleshall in England.
Dindar’s brilliance as a youngster saw him power his club Pirates, to two consecutive double titles in the league and limited overs competitions in the mid 1980’s. He scored 30 hundreds during a career where he represented the Transvaal under-19, Transvaal Schools and Transvaal ‘B’.
Footnote: only Owen Williams in Canada, Sidney Solomon in Australia and Basil Witton in New Zealand, remain as survivors of the South African team under D’Oliveira.