Domestic match referees and umpires too join the initiative

Over Rs 3.5 lakh raised for former India batsman Jacob Martin

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 26.01.19, 4:17 AM
  • Updated 26.01.19, 4:17 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Jacob Martin The Telegraph file picture

Even as the Board of Control for Cricket in India continues to be indifferent towards Jacob Martin, who remains on ventilator support in a Vadodara hospital, match referees and umpires who officiate on the domestic circuit have come together to assist the former India batsman’s family.

Where gestures go, the initiative taken by match referee Rajiv Seth and umpires M. Kuppuraj and K.N. Ramesh is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

Martin, who suffered grave lung and liver injuries, late on December 27, is gradually improving at the Sterling Hospital. “Twenty per cent of the infection in his lungs is still there,” wife Khyati told The Telegraph around 10.00 p.m. on Friday.

Khyati added: “Jacob’s condition is much better, but we’d like him to be quickly out of the ICU as the risk of more infections is strong. He continues to be on the ventilator, though not right through the day and night…

“According to the doctors, Jacob’s injuries are no longer life-threatening, but the road to recovery would necessarily be slow.”

Expressing gratitude to all who have come forward with help, Khyati said: “The family is indebted to every single individual and organisation. I wasn’t aware that Jacob had so many well-wishers.”

Exactly three decades ago, Seth was unlucky to miss out on the India selection as Vivek Razdan got picked for the 1989-1990 tour of Pakistan under Krishnamachari Srikkanth. In more recent times, he has been on the Board’s panel of match referees.

A medium pacer, Seth played for Bengal and Odisha (then Orissa).

Earlier in the week, Seth, Kuppuraj and Ramesh were in Vadodara officiating in a Cooch Behar match. On hearing about Martin’s condition, they decided to visit the hospital and make personal enquiries about the 46-year-old.

Seth and the umpires met Khyati and an aunt of Martin’s, besides Sanjay Patel, a former secretary of the Board and the Baroda Cricket Association.

“Once the trio left the hospital, I got a message from Rajiv that he and the umpires wished to contribute towards Jacob’s treatment. I gave them Khyati’s bank account details and contributions started to pour in…

“No one will forget the spontaneous humanitarian gesture on the part of Rajiv and the umpires…

“Neither Rajiv nor the umpires had ever met Jacob, but they felt the fraternity had to lend support and to do so quickly…

“As we speak, the initiative started by the trio has already seen contributions in excess of Rs 3.5 lakh from the match referees and umpires who figure in a dedicated WhatsApp group,” Patel informed this Reporter.

Sanjay Patel
Sanjay Patel The Telegraph file picture

Patel is coordinating the effort to assist Martin’s family and Khyati made it a point to emotionally thank him for “everything he has done.”

Seth, who is a senior manager with Tata Steel, was boarding a flight to New Delhi when contacted at Vadodara airport.

“Kuppuraj, Ramesh and I took a small step, little realising the response it would get. It’s heart-warming that so many of our colleagues have joined the initiative and contributed between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000…

“It’s not for me or Kuppuraj or Ramesh to comment on who is giving how much as our effort is only to facilitate Jacob’s recovery,” Seth pointed out moments before his flight took off.

Young cricketers (who probably never had anything to do with Martin), former India captain Sourav Ganguly and reigning IPL champions Chennai Super Kings are among those to have pitched in, ensuring that Martin’s family doesn’t lose sleep over paucity of funds.

Where the Board is concerned, it has merely given Rs 5 lakh from the Benevolent Fund, which covers First-Class cricketers who have played a stipulated number of matches.

It’s shocking, but this is how the Board is functioning nowadays under the supervision of the two Supreme Court-appointed Administrators, Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji.

That’s not all. Awfully disappointing too has been the silence of the three office-bearers — C.K. Khanna, Amitabh Choudhary and Anirudh Chaudhry — on the Martin issue.