However, they had no access to the club pavilion, and
accommodated under a mango tree or a banda, a thatched shed,
with an outside toilet.
The club also organized various, open sporting events and
tournaments, which were held on its courts or grounds.
Grandpa was the first Indian to win the coast open tennis
championship and it was several years before other Indians won
Cricket, however was his greatest passion and he devoted
himself to making it a major game especially among the Indian
community and the country.
From 1912, he had his own team, Burjorji XI, which played a
prominent role in the growth of cricket both for the country and
among the Indian community and had a permanent annual day-match
fixture on Mombasa Sports Club calendar.
It was through his team that he trained and guided young
Indians in their cricket careers.
Here too, known for his discipline as well as his
sportsmanship, he tutored them with zeal.
He did not tolerate anyone who played cross bat.
Worked to correct their stance and only then allowed to
continue in his contingent.
He also encouraged these youngsters by presenting a guinea
coin to the one who did well in training or a match.
Mr. M. Khataw, his younger contemporary related to me:
‘Burjorji wanted and expected only the highest standard in
the game and sportsmanship.
"He offered a guinea to those who performed well and it was a
In later years with the growth of various clubs in Mombasa,
inter club trophy competitions were established.
All these matches played with the greatest of enthusiasm were
very serious affairs.
Cricket season became one of the major sporting events at the
Later there was also an annual ‘Test Match’ at Mombasa
between Europeans and Indians, named the Asian – European Test.
In the earlier days, grandpa’s team Burjorji XI represented
the Asian side, as a regular annual feature.
The European eleven drawn mostly from the Mombasa Sports
Club, as it was the only European club.
In later years, the players for the Asian team were selected
from the various Indian clubs in Mombasa, according to their
performance during the season.
Players from this event were then selected for the annual all
Kenya, European versus Asians ‘Test’, played in Nairobi.
These ‘Test Matches’ continued, except for the Second World
War years, until Kenya became independent.
When grandpa retired from his sporting life, the Mombasa
Sports Club elected him a life member Mombasa Sports Club.
At the time, apart from Sir Ali Bin Salim, he was the second
non-European life member.
This was in recognition of his services to Indian sports and
in particular to his efforts and dedication toward the
advancement of cricket in the country, and among the Indian
He was the first Indian sportsman to be so recognized and
granted such an honour.
Upon his retirement from cricket, the East African
Standard of July 26, 1937 stated:
‘When he first came to Mombasa, cricket was at a low ebb.
Under his helpful interest the game soon took firm root, and
much of its progress today, not only at the Coast but in
Kenya and East Africa generally, has been due to his
When after independence India began to appear on world Test
cricket scene, an Indian XI from Sunder Cricket Club, visited
Mombasa for a day match.
It had several Indian test players led by Mustaq Ali. Grandpa
Burjorji and Mr. M. Khataw, the only other Indian life-member of
the Mombasa Sports Club were extended a special invitation to
meet Mustaq Ali.
The Mombasa Times of the period headed it, ‘A day out for
Mr. Burjorji Burjorji Commissariat the doyen of East African
cricket. 1885 - 1963.
It should be noted that no other world cricketer, including
Sir Donald Bradman has received the accolade the Doyen of
Cricket of their country.
The Late Mr. Burjorji
Commissariat: A Mombasa Cricket Pioneer
'When he first came to Mombasa, cricket was
at a low ebb. Under his helpful interest the game soon took firm
root, and much of the progress today, not only at the Coast but
in Kenya and East Africa generally, has been due to his
A Mombasa personality, Mr. Burjorji Commissariat – whom the
East African Standard paid the above glowing tribute (vide
issue dated July 26, 1937) passed away peacefully on Monday
March 13, 1967, at Mombasa, at the ripe old age of 82 years.
Born in India in 1885, Mr. Burjorji came to Mombasa as a
teenager in 1907 to join the National Bank as a cashier, a
position which he occupied until he retired in 1937.
An enthusiastic cricketer, Mr. Burjorji gathered around him
young Asian cricketers of those days, and formed Burjorji’s XI
in 1912, which occupied a very prominent place in the
development of the game of cricket at the Coast.
Prior to the commencement of the Asian-European Test Series
in Mombasa in 1934, Mr. Burjorji selected Asian players and
formed an XI under his name to play ‘Tests’ against Europeans.
On his retirement from active participation in the game in
1937, Mr. Burjorji was paid a distinct honour by the Mombasa
Sports Club of being elected an Honorary Life Member of the club
for his services to the game of cricket.
The late Mr. Burjorji leaves behind a widow, two daughters,
and three sons. R.S.
Obituary From the 'East