Parsis have played an important part in Indian cricket history.
Parsis were the first Indian side to visit England in 1886. And around 12 Parsis, such as Farrokh Engineer, Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor, have played for the Indian cricket teams over the years. The last big name being India women’s captain Diana Edulji.
There still exist a few Parsi clubs in Mumbai which play in the famous monsoon cricket Kanga League, but the Parsi cricketers are almost invisible on the cricketing scene.
On Wednesday morning, one Parsi cricketer — Arzan Nagwaswalla must have made his community proud with a heartening bowling performance, representing Gujarat, that bamboozled Mumbai in their own den Wankhede Stadium.
On a grassy pitch, Nagwaswalla not only came up with a five-wicket haul (5/78) but also seemed to indicate that it is not all over as far as cricketing legacy of the Parsis is concerned.
Nagwaswalla was involved in a major batting Mumbai collapse after bringing three wickets down in two overs at 74 of Suryakumar Yadav, Armaan Jaffer and Aditya Tare even as the calls by his teammates of “Well bowled Bawa” went around. He completed his five wickets after dismissing Dhrumil Matkar after dismissing Mumbai’s crisis man Siddhesh Lad.
“This is my first season and third Ranji match. I have played age group cricket for Gujarat and the performances there helped me in my promotion to the Ranji side,” said the 21-year-old cricketer.
Nagwaswalla said he was nervous when he was handed over the new ball to bowl at the Wankhede. “It all evaporated after the first over. It was my first match on this ground, was a good wicket to bow on. I got the rewards for putting the ball on the right place.”
The youngster has not played club cricket, but he has trained under former Ranji Trophy players. “There are no clubs. My village Umbergaon is on the border of Maharashtra. We had a few Ranji players at our players and I worked under them. I got interest and then the opportunities one after another.”
Nagwaswalla isn’t aware if whether Parsi cricketers still play cricket in domestic circuit. “Mine is not a cricket background. I knew there were Parsi players, who played for India and I know some names. However, I don’t know about the current situation…who is playing or not.”
“I am the youngest player in my town. Not many from my community are left back there and they have either moved to Mumbai or migrated elsewhere,” said Nagwaswalla, who idolises Zaheer Khan and Wasim Akram.