Pakistan lost one of its gentlemen cricketers, Wasim Raja, at a time when present captain Inzaman-ul Haq stands accused of ungentlemanly conduct.
Wasim, 54, died with his boots on — playing in an over-50 competition in Surrey — on Wednesday afternoon.
“He’d just bowled two-three overs and began complaining of uneasiness… He collapsed on the field itself, succumbing to a massive heart attack,” a sobbing Rameez, his younger brother, told The Telegraph.
Rameez, who is with his family in Manchester, added: “As you can understand, we’re in a state of shock…”
An elegant left-hander and a useful bowler, Wasim played 57 Tests and 54 ODIs.
He also coached Pakistan for a brief while after the 1999 World Cup and served as an ICC Elite Panel Match Referee for two years from 2002.
Wasim had, for a number of years, been teaching and coaching in Surrey.
Agencies add: Wasim also played for Durham in County cricket. In Pakistan, he represented Punjab, National Bank, Pakistan International Airlines, Sargodha and Combined Universities.
After retiring, Wasim settled down in England and became a professor of English.
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, while condoling his death, said: “It is very sad and heart-breaking news. As a teenager, I used to go and watch all the games in which Wasim Raja used to play.
“He was a crowd favourite not only because of his hard-hitting abilities but because he was so charismatic. He was an idol for youngsters in the 70s and 80s,” he added.
Javed Miandad, who played alongside Wasim, was shattered by the news.
“We grew together and played our cricket not only as teammates but also as opponents. He was not only a true sportsman, but a thorough gentleman. We have been involved in some of the best matches. It is sad to lose a great cricketer, a good sportsman and a true ambassador of the country,” he said.
Death on field
Wasim Raja’s on-pitch death during an over-50 match in Surrey on Wednesday was the fifth instance of a cricketer dying on the field. The following is a list of the other four:
ABDUL AZIZ: The only instance in first-class cricket occurred when 17-year-old Abdul Aziz died during the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 1958-59 between Karachi and Services. Aziz tried to play forward to an off-spinner when the ball rose sharply and hit him in the chest above the heart. He collapsed and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The score book entry against his name reads: 1st innings retired hurt 0; 2nd innings absent dead 0. This is, mercifully, the only time such an entry has been made in a first-class match.
ANDY DUCAT: Died of a heart attack while batting in a club match at Lord’s in July 1942.
RAMAN LAMBA: Died at the age of 38 after being hit on the head while fielding at forward short-leg during a club match in Dhaka in February 1998.
WILF SLACK: The Middlesex and England left-handed opener, collapsed and died at the age of 34 while batting in Banjul, capital of The Gambia, in January 1989. He had suffered four blackouts either on the field or at nets in the two previous years, but exhaustive tests had failed to identify what was wrong. Note: GF Summers of Notts was hit on the head during a match against Middlesex at Lord’s in 1870. He died a few days later.
Compiled by Mohandas Menon