Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dying to play cricket

Wasim Raja, the former Pakistan batsman who went on to become an ICC match referee, has died while playing for Surrey Over 50s at Marlow in Buckinghamshire. He was 54.

"Wasim had a big heart attack on the field," a Surrey spokesman told Cricinfo. "He felt dizzy, and mentioned this to the slips, saying that he felt he had to go off. He was carried off but then collapsed on the boundary."


That was part of the cricinfo report on Wasim Raja. Amid the sadness of the incident emerges this rare picture of a cricketer dying in harness. Very few people are fortunate enough to die doing a job they love deeply. I am not aware of the stats but presumably for a cricketer such a death is far more unlikely than, say, for a business executive.

Barring accidents, most sportsmen retire long before health check-ups find their way into packed monthly schedules. Wasim Bari was 54 and It was no time to leave, really. It is not even the retirement age in other 9-to-5 professions. But.....can we view this from another perspective?

Let us ponder over a hypothetical situation: say, what thoughts might come to Wasim Raja during a net session 30 years back if some mystic prophet would lean towards him and whisper in his ears to tell him that he would die playing cricket?

I guess I will invite wrath from some quarters for cheapening a personal tragedy by confessing that one of the first thoughts to cross my mind upon reading the news was "I wish I was that lucky in my death'. Maybe I deserve to be criticised. "The high of cricket contributes to these callous thoughts" is one of the generous reactions I can imagine. I ask myself, "Would I feel differently had I personally known Raja?"

No. The death of Wasim Raja is a tragedy to people who cared for him and my first reaction to the news does not challenge that. It merely speculates if the cricketer himself would settle for a 'till death do us part' affair with cricket. Not everyone though will relate good fortune to a demise. Barring, perhaps, those sport lovers who dream to be with their beloved sport all the time.

Even when they have no more time.

Sadly this isolated incident has the potential to become a reference for banning Over 50's cricket as a potentially hazardous concept for aging sportsmen.


Jagadish said...

Angshuman, you're confusing yourself with Wasim Raja & Wasim Bari ("Wasim Bari was 54 and It was no time to leave, really. It is not even the retirement age in other 9-to-5 professions.").

Evidently been watching Namak Halal ("In the year 1979 when Pakistan was playing against India at the Wankhade stadium Wasim Raja and Wasim Bari were at the crease and they took the same consideration. Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari, look Wasim Bari, we must consider this consideration and considering that this is an important match we must put this consideration into action and ultimately score a run. And both of them considered the consideration and ran and both of them got out.") :)

angshu said...

Oops....A casual glance at the last two posts and anyone will be convinced that I am trading cricket blogging for the glitter of the cine world.

If the youngest and most famous Wasim of them all were to read this goof up, he would be the happiest person today for having attained fame after the release of Namak Halaal.