Tribute to an extraordinary cricketer

 
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A tribute to Jameel Yusuf Kermalli, who has passed away at the age of 50

Written in 1985 by Abdurazak Fazal (Dar es Salaam) when Jameel was 16

Just like Mohamed Azharuddin who sprang up from nowhere into the Indian team, the teenager Jameel Kermalli dominated the 1985-86 Tanzanian cricket season miraculously after remaining in the back seat for the whole of the previous season when he found himself promoted into the ‘A’ string from the ‘C’ division where his performance had been noticed.

Jameel, born on 28 February 1969 in Dar es Salaam, formed the 3rd progeny of the ‘KABANAS’ establishing the validity of ‘cricket is hereditary’. As a child he used to accompany his father to practices and matches and the urge to play in the game developed within him. Soon he started attending practices and would reach the ground as early as 3.00 pm.

He owes a lot to Bashir Tejani and Amir Yusuf who encouraged him and furthered his career. In fact it was Bashir’s apt foresight that transformed Jameel into an off spinner.

Striking batsman

The striking aspect of Jameel is his batting which despite his lean physique produces wristy shots. He is a good cutter and most of his runs are scored through cover, square or slip regions. He is also a fine sweeper who can sweep the ball from outside the off stump anywhere between mid-wicket and finest of the fine leg as exhibited against Coast B last season in the semifinals of the Saturday Knockout when he struck such two consecutive boundaries which thrilled the spectators.

Jameel came into prominence on his first trip abroad in Zimbabwe in the 1985 AG Tarmohamed tournament where he got promoted in the batting line up and scored 30 invaluable runs against Malawi’s Mpingwe. In the following game against Zimbabwe’s Universal he scored 22 runs, claimed 3 wickets and took 2 catches that won him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.

He created an impression upon the hosts who offered him a stay in Zimbabwe where he could be coached into a better cricketer, but he let the offer go.

Amazing sequence

Back home Jameel was made to open the innings and his prolific run scoring during the last season when he amassed more than 500 runs including 6 fifties is ample proof of his awesome batting ability. There was an amazing sequence of run making that did not seem to diminish as at one stage he had four 50s in a row.

One of his fine innings was played against Dar Gymkhana when he took the sting out of its bowlers scoring 73 fluent runs and it was only lack of concentration on his part that got him out. He often tends to play such wild shots which of late seem to have given his batting a bit of decline.

National side

Against a strong ‘Giants International’ side from India he scored 35 including a six and took 4 wickets for the Tanzanian side that won him the ‘Man of the Match’ award and lots of acclaim from the visitors. Jameel thus gained a lot of attraction and instantly got into the national side that toured Malawi for the Quadrangular tournament.

He proved it to the hilt by becoming Tanzania’s highest wicket taker with 6 wickets. In the following Quadrangular played at Dar es Salaam Jameel repeated the feat. Besides his haul of 4 wickets with his off breaks Jameel proved an exciting and fluent stroke maker willing to take any chance. Runs piled up as he came to bat. With a batting average of 75 he put up the finest all-round performance for Tanzania.

Today Jameel is one of Tanzania’s leading all-rounders who is often among the wickets and runs. He forms a formidable partnership with the leg spinner Sajjad Lakha that is deadly enough to keep the batsmen under control. With a little longer run up he bowls his spins at a quick pace. On a turning wicket he gets big turns that the batsmen tend to play down the wrong line and get their stumps knocked off. In a recent league game, he spun EKTA to its doom by clean bowling 4 of its batsmen and paving the way for Union’s victory.

Deeply religious

Jameel is also a fine fielder in any position. Indeed, his all-round ability has given Union Sports Club of Dar es Salaam a big boost. Jameel, like his father Yusuf, is deeply religious and while off the field would not hesitate to spread his musallah and offer namaz at the prayer time.

Above: Jameel on the cricket ground, and above receiving a trophy for best performance

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