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Deposed Fijian President Made Mark On Cricket

FIJI-MARA

Deposed Fijian President Made Mark On Cricket Field

Blenheim, June 7 - Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara could well have been left thinking it just wasn't cricket when his innings as Fiji's president came to an end recently.

After 30 years in the top order of Fijian politics, Ratu Mara was last week deposed by coup leader George Speight.

But those with long memories, such as Marlborough sporting historian Mick Jellyman, remember Ratu Mara from the cricket field as well as the coup zone.

Ratu Mara, now 80, was vice-captain of the Fijian cricket team when it toured New Zealand in 1954. When the team played Marlborough at Horton Park that February, Ratu Mara was captain and opening bowler.

Jellyman said Ratu Mara was an imposing figure and it was understandable why he was a paramount chief in his homeland.

``I recall he was one man that stood out among a team who you didn't know,'' he said.

Ratu Mara led from the front when Marlborough batted, taking three for 15 off 13 overs in the first innings and four for 29 from 17 overs in the second.

His batting did not trouble the scorers much though, being caught by Ray Jarrett from Terry ``Splinter'' Neal's bowling for a duck.

However he eventually led the touring team to a nine-wicket win in the two-day match.

Ratu Mara's tour ended early when he broke a bone in his hand attempting a difficult catch against Canterbury later that month.

Despite that, Ratu Mara came second in the Fijian team's bowling averages, picking up 35 wickets at 16 runs apiece. In the nine matches he played, his top score was 44 with an average of 13.

During the tour the team won eight matches, drew three and lost seven.

The 1954 New Zealand cricket almanac records that Ratu Mara had also played for Otago University and, later, Oxford University.

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