Friday 23rd August 2019 was a beautiful English sunny day for the historic cricket match to be played at the Kia Oval between the Parsee Gymkhana of Mumbai and Surrey County Cricket Club’s Charles Alcock XI.
Celebrating the tour of England by an intrepid team of Parsees in 1886 these two teams have met regularly in Mumbai to compete for the ‘1886 Trophy’.
The ‘1886 Trophy’ was the idea of Matt Greenwell, former Captain in the British Army, who was living in Mumbai at the time. Having read the relatively unknown story of the first Indian cricket team to visit UK in 1886 comprising of all Parsees, Matt proposed the annual fixture to the Parsee Gymkhana in Mumbai, which was met with enthusiasm by the committee and the fixture is played annually ever since.
The Charles Alcock XI are named after the then Surrey County Cricket Club Secretary who organised the original tour of the Parsee pioneers to the UK in 1886. Alcock was instrumental in establishing a number of sporting traditions including Football’s FA Cup and the Ashes.
This year’s match was the first time since the Parsee’s second tour of 1888 that an all Parsee XI has toured England from India.
The two teams were lucky enough to be hosted for a delightful pre-match dinner by President Malcolm M Deboo and members of The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) in Harrow, the oldest Indian faith based voluntary organisation in the UK established in 1861 by Mancherji H Cama and Dadabhai Naoroji.
The pre-match dinner on Thursday 22nd August celebrating the Zoroastrian festival of 'Khordad Sal', prophet Zarathushtra's birth anniversary, was attended by over 300 Zoroastrians and from inter faith, including The Worshipful The Mayor of Harrow Cllr Nitin Parekh, former Mayor Cllr Rekha Shah, Navin Shah AM for Brent & Harrow, noted Asian Journalist C B Patel, Sonoo Malkani and others of Harrow Inter Faith, members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, Ron M Kalifa OBE of the ECB and the celebrated and well known A Listed Zoroastrian Bollywood star Boman Irani.
The touring Parsees played warm up fixtures at Chiswick CC on Monday 19th, which they lost and Lurgashall in Sussex on Wednesday 21st, which they won, before the big clash at the Kia Oval on Friday 23rd for the 1886 Trophy. Setting a target of 203 for 2 wickets in the T20 format it was clear the tourers had prepared well for English conditions. Despite the best efforts of the home side’s batsmen, who managed to score only 135 for 7 wickets, the Parsees were victorious on the day by 68 runs, laying down the gauntlet for next year’s 1886 Trophy fixture in Mumbai which will see the Charles Alcock XI visit Mumbai.
The players and organisers are hugely grateful to sponsors SPF Private Finance and the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe.
photo courtesy: Raj D Bakrania, PrMediapix