The twenty-fourth edition of the ‘Spirit of Cricket Tournament’ hosted by Auckland-based Migrant Community Cricket Club got off to a great start on 5 December at the Auckland Domain.

The Domain buzzed with activity as the tournament kicked off with four fixtures on the morning of December 5.

The tournament sponsored and supported by Relianz Forex has been a staple event for all the migrant communities since 1997-1998.

As the tournament kicked off, A television crew was at hand covering the start of this popular tournament and interviewing players and attendees. 

The crew was also after sound bites about Black Caps spinner, Mumbai born Ajaz Patel’s spectacular success with his ten-wicket haul – only the third time it was ever done in world test cricket. Despite the Black Caps’ impending defeat in the Mumbai Test, the spirit was celebratory because of fellow Indian Patel’s near-unbelievable feat.  

Migrant Community Cricket Club President Prashant Belwalkar said he was proud that the tournament boasted a cross section of the Indian diaspora and also included players from the larger South-Asian subcontinent.

This 24-year-old tournament is unique in many ways in terms of its format, the special rules surrounding it and especially for a point system that Belwalkar terms “path breaking”.

This year the tournament has added batting and bowling bonuses to make it more competitive. The expanded format of the tournament this year features 13 teams including the past winner AIS United, runners up Deccan Acers, and past winners City Boyz and Mighty Blues as well.

These are joined by the regulars like TUFXI, Telugu Tigers, ATA Spearheads, ATA Tamil Thunders, Auckland Falcons who have rebranded themselves. And the newcomers Link2Lions, Defenders, SuperTUF, Telangana Titans.

Overall, a very competitive tournament which was scheduled to start on 14 November but got pushed back by several weeks because of pandemic restrictions, finally starting off under the traffic light system on December 5.

“Auckland Community Cricket sees this a major tournament in the calendar which has been supported by Cricket Express and specially this year by the Waitakere Cricket Club,” Belwalkar said. WCC chair Wesley Samuel was present at the inauguration and has extended his club’s support and premises for the organisers to take advantage of.

Cricketer Suhas Shanbhogue said this tournament “has its own charm and is a motivation for the young and not-so-young to roll their arm and take that big swing.” He described it as a real community get together.

Giri Giridharan of Relianz Group emphasised the need of team spirit and the continued support that his organisation has been providing to this summer-long tournament for over a decade. “I am keen to see the silver jubilee next year,” he said.

Prominent Tamil community member Vai Ravindran, a longstanding supporter of the tournament, was present as well.

Watch out for the updates as the tournament progresses. Indian Weekender will bring the weekly result updates as well.

Indian Weekender encourages the cricket loving Kiwi Indian community to attend the fixtures over the coming weeks and months at the Domain on Sunday mornings at 9am.

Where: Auckland Domain – Grandstand area  

When: Sunday mornings – 9 am.