Saturday, December 7, 2019

IL Bula : A Fijian Cricketer With The Longest Surname

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Rudrani Kumari
A literature student and a writer enmeshed in the politics of illusion and reality. I love writing poetry, articles, and blogs. Reading fiction and debating the non-fiction; music and food are the footholds of my self, in constant flux between real and poetic. I believe life is not invested only in the visible truth, the stone, the stars and you. There are truths in fiction, ghosts, myths, and fairies.
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A name often refers to a particular attribute of a person. But, have you heard of a surname that describes the hospital you were born in? Yes, such a surname exists and no doubt it is the longest surname that a person has. The First-Class cricketer and the greatest batsman of Fiji, Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamaineiilikenamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau has the longest surname. The literal meaning of his surname is “returned alive from Nankula Hospital at Lebaka Island in the Lau Group.” However, with his consent, he is known by the abbreviated version of his name, IL Bula.

Born on 15 November 1921, IL Bula was a Fijian cricketer who played a total of nine First-Class matches for his country in the years 1947-1948 and 1953-54 against New Zealand.  He was a right-handed batsman, famous for the huge sixes, moreover, he was also the best fielder that the country ever had.

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In 9 First-class matches, he scored 702 runs with 2 centuries. Besides these, he also played other matches for Fiji and marked the scoreboard with his phenomenal performance. Bula’s last match before retirement was played against King Country at Te Kuiti in the year 1967-68. Based on his performance, he was also elected to ICC in 1965.

When Bula retired from his cricket career, the post-retirement days did not lose the lustre of achievements. Father of 5 daughters, the retired-cricketer became a clerk in the Native Lands Commission of Fiji. Later, 2005, Bula was the first cricketer to be enrolled in Fiji’s Hall of Fame.

His cricket career, though ended many years ago, is appreciated even today and according to Abhishek Mukherjee, has relevance in the cricket played today. “The air of Fiji had not corrupted his health or mind. He remains as pure, simple, and innocent as his cricket was. For Bula, playing cricket meant joy – something we are forgetting in a one-tracked mission to acquire fame and wealth and forgetting why sport was invented in the first place. Today’s cricket can really do with more of his kind” writes Abhishek Mukherjee, cricket historian and senior and Senior Cricket Writer at Cricket Country.

Today he is 98 years old and still up and known for his success. Indeed the long surname does justice to the eternity of his fabulous performance as a cricketer.

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