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Dying for cricket!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Apr 06, 2007
This World Cup appears sadly jinxed and irrevocably struck by tragedy. Bob Woolmer’s death in Kingston just 24 hours after Pakistan were knocked out by Ireland is of course the most high-profile. But there have been other losses that understandably have not attracted as much attention.

In fact the first bit of sad news that came through from the Caribbean occurred four days before the opening ceremony when West Indian fast bowling legend Reverend Wes Hall lost his eldest son in a drowning accident in Barbados.

The 42-year-old John Woodroffe had arrived at his father’s home just hours before with his family on holiday from Toronto, Canada when he decided to go for a swim in the sea. He never returned.

Hall, one of cricket’s all-time greats, was a former president of the West Indies Cricket Board and a member of the organizing committee in Barbados. He had been to India in February as part of the Barbados Tourism Board where he spoke fondly to this correspondent of another son, Shaun, a former jockey and now trainer also based in Toronto. John left behind his wife and 12-year-old son.

Bangladesh cricket enjoyed one of their greatest days on Saturday when they shocked former champions India at Port-of-Spain in their opening game, a defeat that ultimately saw Indian make a shock exit at the first stage.

Just the day before however the Bangladeshi suffered a twin-tragedy when two young cricketers died in a road accident.

Qasi Manjural Islam, who at 22 years 316 days had played in six Tests and 25 ODIs between 2003-04 and 2005-06 was killed when the motorbike he was riding, collided with a truck near Khulna. It meant that he became the youngest Test cricketer to die.

Killed along with Manjural was first-class player Sajjadul Hasan (28), a veteran of 50 first-class games in which he had scored 2,443 runs at 28.08. They were on the way back from a match in Fatullah.

Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar dedicated Saturday’s victory to their memory at the end of the match. While all of Ireland was celebrating their amazing upset of Pakistan and remarkable entry into the Super 8s, they too suffered a sad loss.

Just three days after Woolmer’s mysterious death, Bob Kerr, a former President of the Irish Cricket Union, died in his Kingston hotel room of a heart attack. He was 68. The passing certainly cast a shadow over his nation’s celebrations of their historic cricket feat. We all know how emotionally charged Indian cricket fans are. But imagine a 17-year-old dying of a heart attack!

According to agency reports, the teenager, Ramparvesh Rai of Adalpur village in Samastipur district of Bihar, suffered a fatal heart attack as soon as Bangladesh sealed their victory in Port-of-Spain on March 17.

Another victim of a heart attack was 28-year-old Raju who collapsed and died in front of his TV set. A couple of suicides have also come to my notice.

According to a Reuter’s report, the defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka pushed a 28-year-old farmer in West Bengal, Mahadeb Sarkar to hang himself.

His wife Sadhana also made a suicide attempt but the rope broke and she survived.

Did someone say cricket is “only a game?”

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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  Pankaj: Bengal's Forgotten Cricket Legend
  Book Review - My Journey to the World Cup: The Sky is the Limit
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