Cricket was a popular sport in the United States until the 1950s and several counties existed in the country and states had their won major leagues. Cricket season began every summer in May and practice matches between league teams would kick-off.
But quite a few know that an Indian businessman became a bowling sensation in the Americas in the early 1900s. Maneckji Jamshedji Bhumgara, a businessman from Surat, India often described as ‘East Indian’ by the local newspapers made it big in USA’s league cricket.
Bhumgara was known for his spin bowling and twirling abilities that would demolish any opposition batting attack. His recurring five-wicket hauls made him a match winner and instilled fear in opposition teams. Bhumgara was also a handy batsman and would score runs for his teams on some occasions.
In a crucial league match on July 8, 1907, when his team played the Marylebone Club, Bhumgara scored 16, as his team made 59, one of only three players who reached double figures. He took five wickets and Wanderers won the Test by six runs. Scoring 16 was a big deal back then and taking wickets on top of that was like the cherry on a cake.
Bhumgara settled in England but would frequently visit the USA for business trips. Bhumgara was denied US citizenship as South Asians at that time were considered ‘Aliens’ in America. Bhumgara died in 1944, in Paris, aged 66, survived by his wife, Coovermai, who was in London at the time of his death.