Pakistan's Test cricketer dies playing
Wasim Raja, the former Pakistan batsman who went on to become an ICC match referee, died on Wednesday while playing for Surrey.india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 11:12 IST
Wasim Raja, the former Pakistan batsman who went on to become an ICC match referee, died on Wednesday while playing for Surrey Over-50s at Marlow in Buckinghamshire, southern England. He was 54.
"Wasim had a big heart attack on the field," a Surrey spokesman told the Cricinfo website. "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."
Wasim, the brother of fellow Pakistan international Rameez Raja, was a left-handed middle-order batsman.
He settled in England after studying at Durham University and marrying an Englishwoman.
Paying tribute, International Cricket Council president Percy Sonn said, "This news has left me deeply shocked and saddened and I would like to express my sincere condolences to Wasims wife and family.
"I did not know Wasim personally but what I do know is that the game has lost a great servant, a true entertainer and someone who played with a flair that only a player with real talent can display.
"The proof of that talent is there for all to see in the fact that his finest series was against the great West Indies side of the late 1970s, and anyone who made runs against that line-up at that time could play.
"After he stopped playing at the elite level he remained involved through his role as an ICC match referee and we should all be grateful for the work Wasim did for the betterment of the game we all love."
Wasim came from a cricketing family. His father, the late Saleem Akhtar, and two younger brothers, Zaeem and Rameez, all played first-class cricket. Rameez, ten years his junior, went on to captain Pakistan and served as the Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive.
Now a broadcaster, Rameez has been commentating on Pakistan's tour of England for British-based satellite channel Sky.
Wasim's first-class career spanned 20 years from 1967/68 during which time he played 250 matches with 11,434 runs as an attacking left-hander and 558 wickets thanks to his quickish leg-breaks.
He made his international debut in 1973 and went on to play at the highest level for 12 years, appearing in 57 Tests and 54 ODIs, including matches in each of the first three World Cups, in 1975, 1979 and 1983.
His greatest achievement as a player came during Pakistans 1977 tour of the West Indies where, against the home side's legendary pace attack, he scored 517 runs, including an unbeaten 117 in Barbados.
Wasim's highest Test score was achieved against India in Jullundur in September 1983 when he scored 125 and in the same match he took four for 50, also his best innings analysis.
In total, Wasim scored 2,821 Test runs and took 51 wickets, while in ODIs he scored 782 runs and took 21 wickets.
His role as an ICC match referee saw him officiate in 15 Tests and 34 ODIs between 2002 and 2004, including four matches in the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and eight matches in the following years ICC Cricket World Cup in southern Africa.
First Published: Aug 24, 2006 11:12 IST