Thursday, March 02, 2006

First Cricket Captain of Zahira College

YM Khalid, the Moors' Sports Club bowler of several generations ago was never given his due despite his many prodigious feats with the ball.

The "Times of Ceylon" cricket writer, "Long Slip", deplored, in his newspaper on Jan 19, 1927, the omission of famous all-rounder Edward Kelaart from the All Ceylon team to play the MCC as follows:-

"It is not fair to a cricketer with such a fine record of big achievements in real first-class cricket as Edward Kelaart has, to leave him to fight for his place in the three vacancies still remaining to be filled. It is up to the selectors to make amends in the only manner still possible by giving him the ninth place."

"The claims of S Saravanamuttu, JCO Ernst, Perimpanayagam and the de Sarams among the batsmen, of S Gunasekera, Jayaweera, Kanagarajah, AC mendis and YM Khalid, among bowlers and of DA Wright and CC Senaratne as reserve wicket-keepers will need to be considered before the last two places are filled."

At this distance of time it should be appreciated that more than seven decades (nineteen thrities) ago the very mention of a Ceylon Moor cricketer as a likely contender was creditable, although he was not picked for All-Ceylon. The most prominent of Muslim cricketers at that time were Malays, AC Amath being the most outstanding of them.

So YM Khalid's performance and his being held in high esteem for his cricketing prowess in that age was significant, if not unique.

Khalid was the first cricket captain of Zahira College, Colombo, during the time that JC McHeyzer was Principal in 1916. Some of his sensational bowling feats were 4 for 4 for Colombo Moors vs Galle Moors in 1920 and 7 for 27 for Moors Sports Club vs Colombo Sports Club in 1921, 4 for 4 and 6 for 26 vs Nuwara Eliya, and 8 for 7 vs Times of Ceylon in 1926.

Press Report: "The Times of Ceylon C & AC in their encounter with the Moors SC were bundled out for the paltry total of 14 runs, six men getting 'ducks', the highest score being 8 by Austin Silva. Khalid's 8 wickets for 7 runs in 5 overs, two of which were maidens, represents a very meritorious performance. The Moors SC scored 159 for 8 wickets and declared. HHM Mohideen top scoring with 69."

In 1924, Khalid was the only Ceylonese to take over 100 wickets, the other being WT Greswell, the famous European bowler. The Sunday Observer of January 4, 1925, giving his full list of bowling figures, match by match, said: "For many years YM Khalid headed the bwoling averages of the Moors Sports Club and in 1924 he reached his high-water mark capturing 102 wickets for the year." That newspaper headlined its story: "Moor bowler's success: YM Khalid completes 100 wickets for 1924."

Some of Khalid's best performances for Moors Sports Club were 8 for 55 vs NCC, 7 for 29 vs Education Department, 6 for 12 vs PCM yusuf's XI, 6 for 14 vs Orient SC, 6 for 30 vs Kotahena RC, 5 for 66 vs Zahira College, 5 for 12 vs St. Benedict's College, 5 for 42 vs BRC, 5 for 35 vs National Bank, 5 for 24 vs Notts.. In all he had 102 wickets for 884 runs in 286 overs (41 maidens) averaging a fantastic 8.6.

In 1926, he repeated this feat by taking 104 wickets this time. The Times of Ceylon of January 7, 1927 listed in detail all his bowling figures headlined in its story. "YM Khalid captures 100 wickets.". His feat included that 8 for 7 vs Times of ceylon. Other outstanding figures were 7 for 25 vs Walker & Grieg, 6 for 23 vs Cave & Co., 6 for 36 vs Kalutara SC, 6 for 13 vs Colombo Stores, 5 for 27 vs Colombo Sports Club, 5 for 10 vs Colombo Apothecaries, 5 for 30 vs Government Stores, 5 for 8 vs BYMCA, 5 for 35 vs Dehiwela YMCA, and 5 for 2 for Malays vs KV.

Altogether it was 104 wickets for 811 runs in 319.3 overs (69 maidens) averaging a littleless than 8.

A familiar towering figure with an old tie as a belt round his waist to support his flannels, Khalid was a spectacle to watch when bowling.

He helped to found the Moors' Sports Club and was overjoyed when it managed to get a cricket ground at Braybrooke Place, Slave Island, Colombo 2, close to the Empire Theatre. The inside story of how this ground was obtained is not known popularly. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of West End Drapery Stores, a fashionable shop in Main Street, Pettah, Colombo 11, MLM Mackeen, was able to relate the story of how this ground came to the Moors Sports Club. he recalled,

"The Moors Sports Club should really be grateful to Mr EW Kannangara for obtaining the grounds. The Moors did have their own grounds at Price Park in the early part of the century, however through neglect and lapse this ground was lost by the Club"

"The ground reclaimed from the Beira Lake at Muttiah Road and Braybrook Place was available and the Moors SC made a bid for it. However, their application was turned down."
"Fortunately and thankfully for the Moors, Mr EW Kannangara, CCS, became Office Assistant, Western Province Kachcheri and he had seen the Moor's application rejected by the authorities in the file."

"When Mr Kannangara met me at West End, he discussed with me the possibility of the Moors getting the ground if they re-applied. I informed the Moors SC Captain, HHM Mohideen and his inseparable friend CMM Mahroof (later Proctor) who was the Club's Honorary Secretary, at Hasana Drapery Stores."

"Mr Kannangara unstintedly supported the application and forwarded it to the Lands Ministry with his recommendation. Sir John Kotelawala was the acting Minister at that time and we had to appear in delegation before him. The delegation comprised HHM Mohideen, CMM Mahroof and myself."

"Sir John was an old classmate of mine at Royal College, Colombo, and we traded anecdotes of our old Schooldays. It was a pleasant meeting with Sir John recalling how he scored 50 for SSC vs Moors SC."

"The application was duly sanctioned. Mr Kannangara, with Town Mudaliyar Illangakoon and Kachcheri officials, officially handed over the grounds to the three of us."

Khalid was one of those enthusiastic members who prepared the new ground and played in the first cricket match on it.

In 1956 Khalid was feted by Cathedral College, Kotahena, for completing 25 years on the staff, which he had joined on June 24, 1930, when the Rev GEH Arndt was the Manager. He was the Prefect of Games and chief assistant to the Boxing Instructor when Cathedral won the Stubbs Shield for schools boxing on four occasions.

During World War II, Khalid served in the Colombo Report Center of the Civil Defence Department as Officer-In-Charge of Mapping.


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