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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Ajit Pai, Cricketer - the Old Porirua Road

This is not exactly a Cricket post – lot of Cricket, some GK, some Geography and more !! .. .. … 

Way back in Sept 1969, India played New Zealand at Brabourne -  Tiger Pataudi decided to bat,  a four-pronged attack consisting of Bruce Taylor, Dayle Hadlee, Bob Cunis, and Bevan Congdon bowled out the hosts for a paltry 156, Ajit Wadekar (49) being the only one to put up some resistance. Batting at No. 9 Ajit Pai scored a single before Congdon ran through his defence. Pai was to bowl the first over. Glenn Turner and Bruce Murray began solidly, but Pai got his first Test wicket when he got the latter caught by Chauhan. He came back later to have Mark Burgess caught by Abid Ali.  Pai finished with impressive figures of 17-4-29-2. India responded strongly thanks to some defiant batting from Wadekar and Pataudi, but New Zealand were left to score a mere 188. Pai scored 9 before Hedley Howarth bowled him. Pataudi did not want to take risks, and gave his three seamers — Pai, Abid Ali, and Rusi Surti — 2 overs apiece before turning to Bishan Bedi and EAS Prasanna. As things turned out, Bedi (6 for 42) and Prasanna (4 for 74) guided India to a 60-run victory.


A debut in a winning match and a decent performance in that – yet  why  Ajit Manohar Pai never played more than a solitary Test remains shrouded in mystery: he had all that demands an extended a long run at the top level. It had perhaps to do with his emergence in an era when the Indian bowling attack was heavily dependent on spinners, and Team had batting allrounders   Abid Ali & Eknath Solkar.  An innocuous sounding Cricket    Q by Bala Sir on FB triggered this post. 

Amelia Charlotte Kerr, the New Zealander is a remarkable Cricketer.  On 13 June 2018, Kerr made the highest individual score in a WODI match, and became the youngest cricketer, male or female, to score a double century in One Day International cricket, when she scored 232 not out against Ireland.  Later in the same match, she also took 5 wickets for 17 runs, her first five-wicket haul in WODIs.  On that day, the 17-year-old legspin-bowling allrounder broke former Australia captain Belinda Clark's 21-year-old record of the highest individual score in women's ODIs.  

Porirua, a city in the Wellington Region of the North Island of New Zealand, is one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area. The name 'Porirua' comes from  'Pari-rua', meaning "the tide sweeping up both reaches- a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour and is of Māori origin. The road climbing the hill from Kaiwharawhara towards Ngaio and Khandallah still bears the name "Old Porirua Road".  The Old Porirua Road in the 19th century was the main road north up the west coast from Wellington to Porirua in New Zealand.  It ran from Kaiwarra (now Kaiwharawhara) up the Ngaio Gorge to Ngaio (then called Crofton), Khandallah, Johnsonville and Tawa to the Porirua Harbour. Most of the road still exists, although many sections are now local roads only, having been superseded as through road.  

The road followed the route of a Māori track which was not suitable for wheeled vehicles. In the early 1840s "it was usually easier to pile up the timber and burn it" than to transport logs out; at Boxhill in Khandallah the atrocious road condition could require eight or ten bullocks to pull carts through. William Mein Smith and the New Zealand Company cleared bush alongside the track and widened it in 1841, allowing the sale of sections along it from June.   In late 1845 the government reinforced the two companies of soldiers in Wellington with six hundred more troops.  After the "Maori scare" of 1845-46 Governor Grey had the road from Jackson's Ferry or Fort Elliott in Porirua and The Barracks at Paremata to Wellington upgraded to fifteen feet.  


There is a book titled ‘The Old Porirua Road’ and that exactly was the Cricket Q by R Balasundaram which read :  

Today being Sunday, a rather lengthy question, in two parts.

1) India - Agriculture and Industry

2) Japan- Agriculture and Industry

3) Food and Population in Monsoon Asia

4) The Old Porirua Road

The above are some of the many books co-authored by this opening batsman. Identify him. Second part of the question- This batsman-author was the first Test victim of an Indian medium-pacer, who played that solitary Test in his career. Who was the bowler? Do not send only one name, need both answers. 

My Answer was :  1)Bowler - Ajit Pai 2) Batter - NZ Bruce Alexander Grenfell Murray - a school principal in the Wellington and author of several Geography books. 

The batter Murray was - Bruce Alexander Grenfell Murray  who played 13 Tests as a right-handed opening batsman between 1968 and 1971. He was a school principal in the Wellington area from 1981 to 2002, and the author of several geography textbooks.   

After several seasons in the Plunket Shield, Murray was selected for New Zealand's non-Test tour of Australia in 1967-68, where he was the team's highest scorer, with 351 runs. Murray made his Test debut in early 1968 against India in Dunedin, scoring 17 and 54.  In the first innings of the Second Test in Christchurch he scored 74, putting on 126 for the first wicket with Graham Dowling to set New Zealand on the path to its first Test victory over India; he also took four catches in the match. He toured England, India and Pakistan with the New Zealand Test team in 1969. His highest Test score, 90, and another four catches, helped New Zealand to its first Test victory over Pakistan in a low-scoring match in Lahore.   He is one of just three players to have taken a Test wicket without conceding a run, giving him a career bowling average of 0.00. In the Third Test in Wellington in 1968 he bowled 6 balls and dismissed the Indian opener Syed Abid Ali.  

After his retirement from cricket, Murray continued his teaching career, teaching at Tawa College near Wellington, then at Naenae College in Lower Hutt, where he became principal in 1981, before becoming principal at Tawa College from 1989 to 2002. In the 2002 Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services. He is also a writer. In the 1970s and 1980s he wrote or co-wrote a number of geography textbooks. Since his retirement he has written several books about the Tawa district.  

He has lived in Tawa since 1964. He and his wife Shona have three daughters and a son. His granddaughters Amelia Kerr and Jess Kerr have played international cricket for New Zealand; Amelia played in the 2017 Women's Cricket World Cup.  Beginning with the 2008-09 season, the Bruce Murray Medal has been awarded annually for sportsmanship in Wellington club cricket. 

Interesting facts triggered by one Cricket Q on FB.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
20th July 2022.


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