By: Rehana Moosajee
What memories can be created on dusty cricket pitches without basic amenities like toilets or taps? What do people take away from facilities with no seats for spectators or dignified change areas? My own experiences with Crescents Cricket Club from the time I was a young child in the 1970s right through to the early 1990s impacted in profound ways in shaping who I am in 2013. Elsewhere in this publication you will discover more about the glorious on-field accomplishments of amazing cricketing greats who were deprived by apartheid of showcasing their natural talent and flair. I would like to focus on the non-sporting legacies that being part of the Crescents family created and how it touched lives, hearts and shaped many.
I have very few memories of summers growing up – other than those of entire weekends spent on the cricket ground. Whilst daddy and his friends played cricket there were profound things happening on the sidelines – lessons for life, that could not be taught in any classroom. Cricket meant that rising early was a norm – no multiple cars in a household in those days and if you did not wake early enough to join the game at its start, chances were you would be deprived of a day of fun and interaction. So, Sunday mornings were for waking extra early, doing all the preparation so that when the first ball of the day was bowled you would be part of the action.
Whilst, on the field, only the men and boys had an opportunity to strut their stuff, it had truly become a family affair. Trekking to the “Tech grounds” or the Lenasia Stadium included taking blankets that would be our seats on the dry patches of grass as fold up chairs were a luxury for many in those days. Most important of all was the food – sandwiches, pots of cooked food, iced water in cooler jugs and some basic shade provisions because of course beautiful shady trees, nature’s own provision were reserved for those leafy white suburbs not township areas like ours!
On arrival at the grounds, the excitement of seeing each other again was always palpable. Genuine love and concern would abound – knowing no barriers of religion, age or gender. Adults were genuinely interested in how you were and every child had many parents and siblings who were not their biological ones who both showered praise and reprimanded when required.
Uncle Hurley, Uncle Harry, Uncle Cutty, Uncle Moosa and a host of other “Uncles” would demonstrate in their being life lessons that would shape many of us for generations to come. Uncle Hurley in particular demonstrated environmental consciousness when he would arrive with his 25 litre drum of water and ration the scarce resource and scold any who wasted it. In days when gender equality was not a catch phrase or spoken about as it is today – he would insist that the young boys get up and help to clear up after they had enjoyed a hearty meal. It was not preachy or holier than thou – it was inspiring leadership by example.
As children, we never complained of being bored. Three sticks, three cans or the tiny hillocks at Lenz Stadium were enough to keep us occupied for hours on end. We found creative ways to play, engage and do some very naughty things together – resolving our own squabbles with no intervention from parents. No fancy technology, no fancy toys but heart connections that endure us to each other until this day.
As a girl I was given many responsibilities, selling cold-drinks and samoosas in the Caravan tuck shop. Writing score and learning all the technical jargon like a maiden over had nothing to do with a girl and that a box was something that made us blush – especially as the uncles would merrily tuck their boxes into their pants in full view of all and sundry. There were no hang ups about passing around a bottle of coke and each one taking a slug and passing it on. I still recall the pain as I sauntered around barefoot and stepped on a “stompie” that Uncle Jimmy did not extinguish and burnt my sole!
In Crescents people were not judged by how they observed or did not observe their connection with God. They were not judged by the cars they drove because nobody had a fancy car anyway. They were not judged by the way they dressed because we all arrived in jeans or shorts and were completely messed up by the time we meant home, thoroughly exhausted but having created a host of new memories.
The nicknames that were used were fascinating. I don’t even know Uncle Tiffie’s real name. Enver Saloojee was Salty, Ebrahim Amod – was cutty, Imraan Munshi – Shiner, Ayoob Moolla – Murdoch , Abu Baker Asvat – Hurley, Mohammed Jajbhay – Judgie , Shakiel was Shaker, and Mr Desai the Umpire was Chanakau and the list goes on…
Our memories and lives were shaped by outstanding acts of bravery and courage on the field with both the bat and the ball. Children and women of Crescents were notorious for the amount of noise we could generate, part of the Crescents arsenal to unnerve the opposition. We genuinely enjoyed a spectacular piece of fielding or batting – no action replays, no 3rd umpires – just pure love of the game!
Being part of the Crescents family taught us that life can be enjoyed through simple pleasures. That competition is good and healthy but should never be more important than the love of the game. That gender equality can be lived rather than preached. That environmental consciousness should inform all we do. That nobody has the right to pronounce judgement on another. That the connection of hearts and souls bonded by genuine love means that even if you have not been in touch in many years, your life has been touched by the other. Crescents was more than a Cricket Club. It was a University for life where profound lessons were imparted through action and example!