Cricket History

Indian Cricket Team 1945


Middle Row: N. PARBHU (Supporter), B. JERAM, R. GIRDHAR, J. JERAM, B. GIRDHAR, J. RAWSON (Coach)

Front Row: R. HARI, P. SOMA, K. PARSOT (Captain), R. C. HARI (Manager), D. SUKHA (Vice-Captain), P. BHIKHA, S.B.SINGH.

The Pukekohe Indian Sports Club established a cricket team in 1945, the year the Club was formed, and a team was entered in the Franklin Cricket Association competition. At an executive meeting of the Franklin Cricket Association, the President at the time, Mr A. Fox welcomed the two delegates from the Pukekohe Indian Sports Club and wished the Club success. They were, Mr Ravji C Hari and Mr Keshav Parsot who were also elected onto the executive of the Franklin Cricket Association.Pukekohe Indian Cricket Team 1945-46. Cricket Team 1945

This initial team played for two seasons and was selected from the local Indian community. Mr Rawson coached the side during its infant years and he also participated as a player/coach in the second year. Although the team was very well attired and enthusiastic, the inexperience of its players showed in the results. As some of the members went back to India, there was trouble fielding a team. In fact the Pukekohe Indian Sports Club went into recess until 1954.

The captain of the side was Keshav Parsot. Sarge Singh, the youngest of the team at 14 years of age vividly recalls many events that took place at the time.

“The cricket gear was purchased with money collected from the local community. Matches were played at Kingseat, Hunua, or Bledisloe Park. The cricket pitch consisting of a concrete base over which a coir matting was laid. As there were no motor mowers, sheep were grazed on the outfield to keep the grass down. Since the area was predominantly dairy farming, matches would start at 10.00 am and finish at 4.00pm to enable the farmers to go home and milk the cows”.

After the first two seasons the cricket team was disbanded. Since then the Club has not entered a team on a regular basis although from time to time, matches have been arranged against neighboring Indian Sports Clubs. In the 1950’s two players from the original team, Keshav Parsol and Sarge Singh continued to play cricket for the Pukekohe Club. Due to the lack of players, the Club was unable to field a team on a regular basis as it did in 1945-46.

The 1960’s and 1970’s also saw players turning out for local cricket sides, as there was no Indians team. However, players from our Club took part in annual Indian cricket matches.

Dhirubhai Patel

Elegent looking sweep shot by Dhiru Patel.

This period produced an outstanding cricket player from the Sports Club, Dhiru Patel. Dhiru came to the Franklin region in 1970/71 having spent many seasons playing in India for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy competition. He scored centuries in this tournament, which is considered the major cricket tournament in India. He was also chosen to play for the India B team. After arriving in Franklin, Dhiru played Club cricket for Waiuku and was very quickly selected to play for Northern Districts in the National Plunket Shield competition. He also played for and captained the New Zealand Indian side.

The 1980’s saw the Club assemble a side to play in the local twilight cricket competition for one ear. In 1971 the New Zealand Indian Sports Association endeavored to start a cricket tournament 3 be played over the New Year period. The first tournament was planned to be held in Wellington due to lack of teams, the tournament did not take place. Very few International sides actually visit and play in the Counties area, however the Pukekohe Indian Sports Club was fortunate to host Ladies’ cricket team from India which was touring New Zealand in 1982. The Pukekohe Indian community enthusiastically supported this function.

In 1993 the New Zealand Indian Sports Association restarted the cricket tournament. The first was held in Rotorua and Auckland the following year. Pukekohe entered a side in both years but with limited success.

Even though the Sports Club did not field a team on a regular basis, members took part for local on-Indian Counties Clubs. From this nucleus, players were chosen to represent Franklin Colts side and the New Zealand Indian team. Manu Panchia and Pema Manga played for the Franklin Colts and Franklin B Team. Members to play for the New Zealand Indian side included Magan Lanchhod, Pema Manga, Manu Panchia, Mohan Parsot, and Dhiru Patel. Kanu Panchia was a New Zealand Indian selector from 1972 to 1975 and was also an umpire in the 1994 New Zealand Indian Sports Association cricket tournament. Bhikhu Bhana was also a NZISA Cricket selector from 994 to 1995.

The game of cricket has seen some changes in the last 50 years. However, the changes to the rules have not been as drastic as other codes. Some have been significant, from the days of handicaps, which were given to teams in the 1940s, to a one-day 50 over format. In line with this cricketing approach, the Pukekohe Indian sports team has also moved with the times. Players now wear a coloured uniform instead of the traditional white attire.

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