The unsual story of the Friends Vohra Cricket Team

Written by Mudar Pathreya | Published on: August 26, 2019

It was another time in this great land when a Muslim community name became the proud identity of a Hindu-majority team’s identity.
And no one thought much about it.


Hindu Muslim unity
Representation Image

In the Eighties, a dozen-odd boys from Ezra Street (Calcutta) aspired to play the Maidan League.

The maidan’s premiere tournament.

They had a team but no name.

So they approached Fazelbhai, member of the Maidan League committee.

What is the name of your team, he asked.

Friends Cricket Club, they said.

The Maidan League organisers already had two teams with the same name.

When Fazlebhai (Bohra Muslim) forwarded the request to the tournament committee, it assumed that the aspiring players were Bohras. 

So the team was included and given a name by the tournament committee.

Friends Vohra Cricket Team.

Comprising 16 Gujarati Hindus, one Khoja (Aga Khani) – and no Bohra (until I joined a year later).

Someone asked: ‘Aiyya Vohro to koi chhey nahi. Toh naam ma kya thi aaivu?’ (There is no Bohra here. So where did it come in the name?)

The usual reply: ‘Rehva dyo ne. Ramva to marey chhe.’ (Leave it. At least we are getting to play).

The personality of Friends Vohra Cricket Team was as unusual as its name.

We would get bowled out for 32 and bowl the other team out for 16.

We would beat the previous year’s champions who would turn around and ask bewildered: ‘Ee log aaya kahaan se?’

We created a buzz; other teams playing their matches on the maidan would turn around to watch us between deliveries.

Dad would bring the Quran shareef and sit in a corner of the maidan reciting Surah Yaseen for all our players.

When we won lost matches, a Matador would be requisitioned and the team would go off (waving to passers-by as if we were part of some celebration motorcade) to Jhalaram mandir in Haridevpur to say ‘Thank you’.

We played for a decade; then the team wound up and we went our different ways.

And still when old maidan-ites meet, they look at us, unable to place our name, but point to us and after a few seconds and exclaim ‘Arre, Friends Vohra!’

It was another time in this great land when a Muslim community name became the proud identity of a Hindu-majority team’s identity.

And no one thought much about it.


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