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BASHIR TEJANI - Sunday News-1983 BY: Abdulrazak Sheriff Fazal
On hearing a thunderous applause from the crowd at a beautifully shot played by Bashir Tejani a group of youngsters sipping their drink at the Gymkhana ground rushed out to watch this master batsman. That makes one recall Norman Yardley’s remark way back in 1966 when the mighty Sobers had mesmerized the English audience.
Bashir reminds me of the clapping we gave him as the principal of King George the vith school(now Lumumba College) in Zanzibar would convey of Bashir’s heroic performance in the school’s victory to the early morning parade of students assembled in the school hall.
Now General Manager with Leyland Paints (Tanzania) Ltd, Bashir is a dignified personality of great prominence. For a cricketer he is endowed with an appropriate height and a perfectly built physique.
Cricket is hereditary with Bashir. From his father who played league cricket in Zanzibar to the two brothers who played on the mainland, cricket is in the family. There was a stage when at a time the three Tejani brothers represented Union ‘A’.
Born on 25th March in 1946 in Zanzibar, Bashir’s career goes back to his school days when he played for ESM IN 1958. He represented ‘Ithnashri Gymkhana A’ in 1960 and became the youngest player at the age of 15 to represent Zanzibar xi in 1961.
Bashir relishes the honour of representing almost all the towns in Tanzania where cricket is played and these besides Zanzibar and Daressalaam also include Moshi, Arusha, Lindi, Mtwara, Morogoro and Bukoba where he used to be stationed at one time or another. Whilst in Daressalaam Bashir joined Union Sports Club.
Bashir has been a regular member of the National Team since 1967 when he played under the captaincy of CD Patel against the visiting Indian side. Bashir’s style makes him the cynosure of spectators who yearn to watch his elegant footwork. He is an aggressive batsman who respects no bowler. On his arrival at the wicket the fielders spread themselves as he opens his account with an instantaneous drive or glance. It is his deep conviction that may seem arrogant but aids his confidence. While at the wicket it is typical of him to hold his waist or squat on the ground resting his forehead on the handle of his bat.
Bashir is graceful. When it comes to grace he has an edge over others. He picks up the ball remarkably early. He excels in every stroke but his best shot has to be over leg where he flicks or sweeps a delivery. His gift of timing and deceptive power receives even the approval of a bowler. Sixes get hit by a number of batsmen but the effortless ease with which Bashir strikes a ball is unique, a mere twist of the bat sees the ball soaring towards the spectators.
Bashir has scored as many as eleven centuries in his long career with an unbeaten 172 for Arusha against Moshi as his highest score. This is indeed a remarkable feat that no other local cricketer on the current scene can boast of.
One of Bashir’s innings that will always be cherished was the one he played against Dar Cricketers in a prestigious game played at the Kinondoni ground. Incidentally that match happened to take place after the uproar of the National Team’s selection in which Bashir’s name was omitted. It was a classic innings of 54 runs that contained every stroke in the game. It was played with vengeance as if showing the cynics that the old guard still possessed his old touch. That display satisfied the media and held Bashir’s honour but it remains his disappointing knock for eventually Union suffered a narrow defeat.
A couple of years back Shabbir Kaderbhai of Coast Gymkhana terrorized Union by bowling out Union cheaply and claiming seven wickets. It was a heroic performance in a Sunday game and when the two teams met again in a Saturday game Union seemed still under the magic spell of Kaderbhai. But that Saturday belonged to Bashir whose brisk 70 completely demoralized Kaderbhai and steered Union to an easy win.
Bashir’s share of 61, in a rescue act for Tanzania against the visiting Minor Counties team from Britain, when the score read 26 for 5 remains one of his memorable knocks.
Bashir is not only a fascinating batsman but also a fine bowler. He opens the attack for Union. Fast right arm in the medium pacer mould with that fluent athletic run to the wicket, Bashir bowls both in swing and out swing deliveries. In his second spell with a short run and classic motion he bowls his spinners.
Bashir’s best bowling was recorded against Upanga in 1967 when he took 9 wickets. One of his impressive attacks was seen against the visiting MCC side in 1981 when he bowled long and continuous spell at brisk medium pace that not only paid off but was quite economic. It earned him even the acclaim of the English visitors.
Bashir is also one of our finest umpires. He is highly commended for his knowledge of cricket laws and rules. He also represents the club in volleyball and is very keen on golf.
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