Spin king leaves lasting legacy
One of the greatest bowlers to grace the local cricket scene has passed.
Shiraz Ali, the former Southampton Rangers, Somerset and Warwick left-arm spinner, died on Thursday aged 86.
Ali won multiple league and cup honours with Rangers and Somerset in the 1960s and 1970s.
He also represented Somerset in Cup Match, claiming 30 wickets between 1964 and 1975, with best figures of six for 79 achieved during the 1972 classic.
“Shiraz was an absolutely fantastic left-arm bowler and I don’t know of any other spinners in Bermuda who were as good as he was,” Randy Horton, the former Somerset captain, said. “He was certainly one of the best spinners that I played with and was part of a very successful Somerset team in the 1960s. He was a part of our team when we won the league back in the late 1960s.
“He had good line and length and he was very deceptive in terms of the pace of his deliveries. He was a spinner, but not necessarily a slow spinner.”
Joe Bailey, another former Somerset captain, added: “Shiraz played a very important role when Somerset won those trophies.
“He took a lot of wickets and was one of our main wicket takers. He kept batsmen in two minds and could bowl long spells if needed.
“One game I remember in particular was in Somerset when he got seven wickets for nine runs against Devonshire Recreation Club in the league.”
Ali eventually became a vice-captain at Somerset when Bailey took over the captaincy after Horton embarked on a professional career in the former North American Soccer League.
The late cricketer moved to Bermuda from his native Trinidad and Tobago in 1962.
Lee Raynor, the former Rangers and St George’s Cup Match all-rounder, proved instrumental in Ali’s move to the island.
“I played against Shiraz who was a part of a Trinidadian touring team that came here and he and I became friends,” Raynor said. “He liked Bermuda and the people so much, so I invited him to my house and my father [Reginald] agreed to bring him back. We brought him back and he stayed with us when he first came.
“Shiraz made a great impact with Rangers and when he married his wife [Lynn] in Trinidad the team went there to play a series of games and also to attend the wedding.”
Raynor added: “Shiraz was an excellent bowler who bowled right on the spot because he had a lot of control.
“He put the ball right on the spot from the first ball and he also had one that he bowled with the arm.
“He was a leg-break bowler, but he had one that he could bowl from his arm that would come back.
“That was a danger ball when he first came to the island and was like his ace in the hole.
“Condolences to his wife, Lynn, and family.”
Ali also represented Warwick as a guest player in the Western Counties where he claimed 12 wicket-hauls on two separate occasions. He also served as president of the Western Counties Cricket Association and assistant secretary at Southampton Rangers and gave back to the sport coaching at youth level.
“Dozens of young Bermudian boys benefited from his quiet disposition and the gentlemanly way he handled and steered them to always make the long-term choices and to be prepared for opportunities,” Kathy Simmons, the acting sports minister, said in a statement.
“Many men can attest to the quality of the cricket camps he held in the late Sixties and Seventies.
“He was an outstanding cricketer and over the years was recognised for his batting and bowling legacy.
“However, if you had the pleasure of meeting him you would know that his legacy to Bermuda’s youth is the record of which he would be most proud.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I extend sincere condolences to Mr Ali’s wife, Lynn, daughters, Rehanna and Nisha, as well as his friends.”