Promising cricketer turns heads

Ottomans Yaqeen Gamaldien follows in the footsteps of his cricketing great-grandfather.

Former provincial and national cricket legend, Gesant “Tiny” Abed’s legacy lives on through his great-grandson, Yaqeen Gamaldien, whose blazing talent is taking Ottoman’s under-11 matting pitches by storm.

The prolific all-rounder, Abed, was one of four cricketing brothers who played for the SA Cricket Board of Control (SACBOC) from the 1950s until the mid-1960s.

He represented the Western Province Indians team at 17, toured to PE and Durban by lorry, and also made the SA Indians, Malays and Coloureds teams. He was the vice-captain to captain Basil D’Oliveira during the 1958 tour to East Africa.

Abed was well-known for his leadership skills, fast pace bowling, aggressive middle-order batting and as a fine close-in fieldsman. And, with his great-grandson, Yaqeen, it is no different, as the 10-year-old is the captain of Ottoman Cricket Club’s under-11 squad.

Yaqeen already has two half-centuries in the five games Ottoman’s under-11 has played this year. He scored his maiden 50 runs against Kuils River in their opening game despite going down by 25 runs, in February, at the Hassan Howa Pavillion.

Ottoman’s under-11 won seven, tied one and lost four games out of 12 Western Province Cricket Association youth development league games played.

The master-blaster scored his second 50 runs, before his coach retired him, on Saturday, during their five-wicket win against Western Province Cricket Club (WPCC), at home. Ottoman was chasing down 181 runs in 35 overs, and they managed to reach the target in 26 overs. Yaqeen said his coach, Ruschdi Taliep, guided him well throughout the innings.

“It felt incrediblescoring another 50 not-out but even better helping my team reach the target to beat Western Province Cricket Club. It was also special as my family came out to support me. It was tough in that heat but well worth it,” he said.

Yaqeen said he loves playing for Ottoman because of the friendships he has made and the opportunities they have as a team. He also enjoys playing soccer, rugby and swimming with his cousins.

“I would love to play for Western Province and South Africa one day as I’ve heard my great-grandfather Gesant ‘Tiny’ Abed played for Western Province and South Africa. So I would love to walk in his footsteps.”

His father, Raeeq Gamaldien was excited by his son’s 50-run achievement on Saturday.

“As parents, we can only support our Yaqeen on his ambitions, but importantly not to put any pressure on him and give coaches a respectable and well-mannered person to work with. At the moment, fun is the most important outcome,” said Gamaldien.

Coach Taliep said Yaqeen is both an opening bowler and batsman, however, on Saturday he batted third. “He struggled a bit in the beginning, but he is maturing now and playing longer innings,” he said. Taliep said the team played well, considering the heat, against a strong WPCC under-11 side.

“They should keep on practising and enjoy the game. Not everybody can score 50 or take many wickets every week but everyone can have fun. We’re here for development. The block (league) is done, now we are going to play friendlies,” he said.

Ottoman’s under-11 side also grabbed a 3rd place finish at the Cape Town 6-A-Side cricket tournament last month.