The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated lives the world over and more than three million people are reported to have died since the virus first emerged in December 2019. Cricket has not been exempt from the ravages. In this space, we take a moment to remember those we have lost.
Pramod Kumar Chawla, India cricketer Piyush Chawla‘s father
Indian cricketer Piyush Chawla’s father Pramod Kumar Chawla died on May 10, 2021. He had recovered from a bout of Covid-19, but as Chawla said in a post on Instagram, his father had been suffering from post-Covid-19 complications. Legspinner Chawla, 32, has played three Tests, 25 ODIs and seven T20Is for India, and was part of the India squads that won both the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup. At the time of writing, he was the joint-third-highest wicket-taker (156 wickets) in the IPL overall.
Kanjibhai Sakariya, Saurashtra and Rajasthan Royals bowler Chetan Sakariya‘s father
Kanjibhai died at a hospital in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on May 9, 2021. His son, Chetan, 23, had been one of the breakthrough performers of the 2021 IPL season, which was postponed indefinitely on May 4 after several players across franchises tested positive for Covid-19.
Krishan Kumar Tiwari, 52, BCCI scorer
Tiwari, a member of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association’s umpire and scoring committee died after testing positive for Covid-19 in a hospital in Haryana on May 8, 2021. A scorer of repute, Tiwari worked on four Tests and five ODIs as well as a large number of matches in the Indian domestic circuit, including in the Ranji Trophy and the IPL. He was also an umpire in the Delhi club-cricket circuit.
Pramod Sood, 62, Delhi-based cricket organiser
Sood was the force behind the Om Nath Sood cricket tournament, a regular fixture on the Delhi cricket calendar for 30 years before the 31st edition – in 2021 – was suspended because of the spike in Covid-19 cases in the city. He died on May 7, 2021, after suffering a heart attack while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at a hospital in Delhi.
Vatsala Shivakumar, 42, and Cheluvamaba Devi, 67 – India Women batter Veda Krishnamurthy‘s sister and mother
Krishnamurthy’s situation was particularly heart-breaking, losing as she did her mother and sister within a fortnight of each other. Krishnamurthy’s mother died in Kaduru, Karnataka, on April 23, 2021, and her sister, who had been put on a ventilator that same day, 40 kilometres away in Chikkamagaluru, died on May 6 after suffering from severe lung infection as a result of Covid-19-induced pneumonia.
Dinar Gupte, 76, BCCI statistician
Gupte died on May 6, 2021, after what the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) said had been a “hard battle” with Covid-19. Originally from Vadodara, Gupte had served as a statistician with the BCCI for over 15 years, and had also worked as an official scorer since 1970 with the Indian board, the SCA and All India Radio, among other organisations.
Vivek Yadav, 36, former Rajasthan legspinning-allrounder
Yadav died on May 5, 2021, in a hospital in Jaipur. Reports say he had been undergoing chemotherapy and tested positive for coronavirus during a hospital visit. Yadav was part of Rajasthan’s 2010-11 and 2011-12 Ranji Trophy-winning squads. He took 57 first-class wickets between 2008 and 2013.
Ruchir Mishra, 42, sports journalist
Mishra, who died on May 4, 2021, in Nagpur, had been a cricket correspondent for the Times of India for over ten years, writing extensively on domestic cricketers in central India. He had earlier worked with Dainik Bhaskar and the Hitavada newspapers.
Kishan Rungta, 88, former Rajasthan captain and national selector
Rungta, a prominent Rajasthan cricketer in the 1950s and 1960s, had served as a national selector in the late 1990s and also held various positions as a cricket administrator in Rajasthan over the years. His son Kishore and elder brother Purushottam had both been the BCCI treasurer in the past, too. A former captain of Rajasthan, Rungta scored 2717 runs in 59 matches. He died on May 1, 2021, in a Jaipur hospital after having tested positive for Covid-19 a week earlier.
Vivek Bendre, 59, Mumbai-based photojournalist
Bendre was a senior photojournalist with the Hindu, and was among the most experienced and respected cricket photographers in India. He died of Covid-19 in a Mumbai hospital on April 25, 2021.
Pradeep Sharma, former India cricketer Rahul Sharma‘s father
Rahul Sharma, the 34-year-old Punjab legspinner who played four ODIs and two T20Is for India between 2011 and 2012 and also turned out for a number of IPL teams between 2010 and 2014, announced the loss of his father Pradeep to Covid-19 on Twitter on March 17, 2021. Rahul had also tweeted news of his father’s poor health a couple of days prior.
Roy Torrens, 72, former Ireland fast bowler and team manager
Torrens was an iconic figure in Irish cricket, having been involved with the game in various capacities – after starting as a talented fast bowler when just 18 – for over 50 years. He died from Covid-19 on January 23, 2021. Torrens played 30 times for his country between 1966 and 1984 (at the time, Ireland’s games did not have international status and only occasionally had List A/first-class status), picking up 77 wickets at an average of 25.66. After his retirement, Torrens served as a selector and as president of the Irish Cricket Union (now Cricket Ireland) before taking charge as the Ireland men’s team manager in 2004.
Phil Wright, 60, Leicestershire dressing-room attendant
Wright died on November 12, 2020, after contracting Covid-19. He was a dressing-room attendant at Leicestershire since 1986, and the county called him “a huge member of the Foxes family” in a tweet announcing his passing.
Kishore Bhimani, 81, commentator and writer
Bhimani, who died on died October 15, 2020, was the quintessential multi-sport, multimedia Indian journalist of the 1970s and ’80s. In his print avatar he was sports editor of Kolkata’s The Statesman newspaper, but his cricket commentary – often witty and irreverent – on radio and TV gave him a pan-India recognition. He maintained close ties with the day’s leading cricketers, across borders. His son, Gautam Bhimani, is also a prominent figure in cricket broadcasting in India.
Chetan Chauhan, 73, former India Test opener
Chauhan died on August 16, 2020, having suffered complications after contracting the virus. Chauhan had tested positive on July 12 and was admitted to hospital. Subsequent reports said that Chauhan had recovered, but his health took a turn for the worse and he had to be put on a ventilator. During his playing career, Chauhan had forged a very successful opening partnership with Sunil Gavaskar, putting on 3010 runs in 59 Test innings together. After retirement, Chauhan also served as India’s team manager and as the sports minister of Uttar Pradesh, was also a two-time member of parliament, and a former president of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association.
Umesh Manohar Dastane, 64, former Railways cricketer
Dastane, who played 16 first-class matches for Railways in the Indian domestic circuit between 1978-79 and 1984-85, died on August 2, 2020, in a hospital in Sholapur, Maharashtra. Reports said that he was undergoing treatment after contracting Covid-19.
Sanjay Dobal, 53, former Delhi-based club cricketer
Dobal, a club cricketer who was a part of the support staff of the Delhi Under-16 team in 2012, died on June 30, 2020, at a hospital in the Indian capital where he was being treated for post-Covid-19 complications. His two sons are both cricketers too: Siddharth has played first-class cricket for Rajasthan, and Ekansh has been a member of the Delhi Under-23 team.
Riaz Sheikh, 51, former Pakistan first-class legspinner
Sheikh, who played 43 first-class matches and 25 List A matches in a career spanning almost two decades, died of suspected Covid-19 on June 2, 2020, in Karachi. A legspinner with 116 wickets in first-class cricket, Sheikh was also reported to be diabetic.
Peter Edrich, 93, Bill and John Edrich’s cousin
Peter Edrich died on May 7, 2020, in Norfolk, after contracting Covid-19. Among his cousins were England Test cricketers Bill and John Edrich, as well as Brian, Eric and Geoff Edrich, all first-class cricketers. According to the Great Yarmouth Mercury, Peter “was not without talent” as a cricketer, and played for Norfolk as well as the South Walsham village team. Peter was, however, best-known as an auctioneer in the country’s livestock markets, and also joined the Royal Navy during World War II as a radar technician on operations in the North Sea.
Younus Ata, 60, former Baluchistan and Quetta cricketer
Ata died on May 5, 2020, after being diagnosed with Covid-19. He played a total of five first-class games, first for Baluchistan in 1978-79 and later with Quetta, till 1983-84, scoring 326 runs at an average of 36.22. Two List A games netted him 70 runs. His older brother Tariq Ata was an umpire, and stood in one Test match – Pakistan vs Australia in Faisalabad in 1988.
Zafar Sarfraz, 50, former Peshawar first-class batter
Sarfraz died on April 13, 2020, after being on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Peshawar for three days. A left-hand middle-order batter, Sarfraz made 616 runs from 15 first-class games for Peshawar. He also had 96 runs from six one-day games before retiring in 1994 and moving on to coaching both the senior and the Under-19 Peshawar teams in the mid-2000s.
Lee Nurse, 43, former Berkshire batter
“Small in stature but big in heart” is how a tribute in The Cricketer described Nurse, who died of Covid-19 on April 9, 2020. Nurse opened the batting for Berkshire between 1997 and 2006 “with distinction and great character”. Seymour Nurse, the West Indies batter of the 1960s, was Lee’s grand-uncle, while Malcolm Marshall was his godfather, and though he never went on to play at the highest level, he was a popular cricketer in the Home Counties Premier League where he played for May’s Bounty club for around 20 years.
Kingston Anthony Murray, 69, former Grenada and Surrey cricketer
Murray, a former Grenada quick who ended up spending most of his life in Surrey, died after contracting Covid-19 on April 4, 2020. “Murray is remembered by his contemporaries as one of the fastest bowlers ever produced by Grenada,” a Grenada Cricket Association statement said. Aged 25, he moved to England after having served in the police department in Grenada while also representing the island in cricket. In England, while working with the London Underground, he played for Mitcham CC and then Islands CC (later a part of Island Vale CC), of which he later became the president.
Ken Merchant, 81, member of the Cricket Society
Merchant, a founding trustee of the Cricket Society Trust, died on April 2, 2020, in Southend Hospital. Tragically, he and his wife Joan died in adjoining beds in the hospital on the same day, the society said in a statement. They were both being treated for Covid-19. Merchant had also been an executive member of Essex County Cricket Club.
David Hodgkiss, 71, chairman of Lancashire County Cricket Club
One of the first members of the global cricket community to be taken away by Covid-19, Hodgkiss died on March 30, 2020. The Lancashire CCC chairman at the time, he had been on the board at Old Trafford for 22 years, and was believed to have had underlying health issues. He had previously served as treasurer and vice-chairman at Lancashire, and took over as chairman from Michael Cairns in April 2017. He was a central figure in the renovation of Old Trafford over the past decade.
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Eng vs Ind 2021 – Concussion rules Mayank Agarwal out of first England Test
Ajinkya Rahane, who had a hamstring niggle, has been cleared to play the first Test
Agarwal copped the blow early in his batting session when, while trying to duck a short delivery from Siraj, he lost sight of the ball and got hit on the helmet before falling down. He was immediately surrounded by his team-mates, including Siraj and the support staff. A little while later, he walked out alongside physio Nitin Patel. He was seen holding the back of his head as he walked off.
“Pujara is our No. 3 batsman,” Rahane said during a press interaction not long after Agarwal had been hit but before the final announcement had been made regarding his unavailability. “Who’ll open our innings we are again finalising our combination, it’s not yet finalised. Pujara has been really solid for us as No. 3 batsman and he’ll continue to bat at No. 3.
“As [far as] opening bat [goes], the captain, coach and management will decide the combination and you’ll get to know soon.”
India were spared another headache, though, as Rahane, who missed the tour game with a hamstring niggle, was cleared fit for the Trent Bridge Test.
“I had a small niggle but I’m fully fit now,” he said. “Whatever the physios and trainers asked me to, I’ve completed all those stuffs. I’m looking forward to the Test match. I’m completely prepared.
“The preparation has been really good so far for me. Even though I didn’t play the three-day game, I was practising on the sidelines. Again, here in Nottingham, we have had a couple of good practice sessions so I’m completely ready.”
Match Preview – West Indies vs Pakistan, Pakistan tour of West Indies 2021, 4th T20I
The series was of significant importance for both teams in their preparations ahead of the T20 World Cup but so far rain has ruled the headlines, ditching all the promises for the series. With two of three games washed out and one game slashed before the series began, Pakistan come into the final match against West Indies 1-0 ahead.
Pakistan’s run-scoring has revolved around Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam. They have rejigged their line-up to break the two up, playing Sharjeel Khan as an opener, but the washouts mean they haven’t gathered enough evidence to vindicate the tweak. The middle-order conundrum is deeper than ever with Mohammad Hafeez’s silent bat, misfiring Sohaib Maqsood and inexperienced Azam Khan out with an injury.
For a while now, Hafeez has been in the side mainly because of his batting with his bowling being used on an as-and-when-needed basis. However, his four-over spell – at an economy of 1.50 – in the only completed game, earned him the Player-of-the-Match award and has been a big positive for Pakistan. More of that in the final T20I will give Pakistan wider options for the World Cup to be played in the UAE, where pitches are more conducive to spin.
West Indies, under Kieron Pollard, were hoping to know most of their first-choice picks by the end of this series but have not learnt much either. Despite restricting Pakistan to 157 in the second T20I, their dangerous batting order failed to display the firepower they are synonymous with. Only Nicholas Pooran made any impression, scoring an unbeaten 62 runs off 33 balls.
On Tuesday, Pakistan will be eyeing an away series win, and while winning remains paramount, what they would seek is batters apart from Rizwan and Azam to raise their hands. Before the series, Azam had promised to check the bench strength. In that sense, this game gives both sides yet another opportunity to finetune their respective team combinations.
West Indies LWLWW (last five completed T20I, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Chris Gayle scored a match-winning 67 against Australia but against Pakistan, has scored 7, 16 and 1*. In the last 12 months, he is averaging 16.53 with a strike rate of 114.97 with just one half-century in 15 T20Is. His T20 numbers aren’t great either; this year he has played 25 innings and averaged 22.72 at a strike rate of 130.20. The last calendar year where he averaged less than 25 in T20s was in 2010. West Indies will have to see whether he’s strengthening the batting unit or weakening it.
Pakistan’s middle and lower order will be under scrutiny. In the last completed game, they were well set to go past 180 but finished with a middling 157, including just 23 runs in the last four overs despite a fairly long batting line-up. Maqsood’s success has largely been built batting in the top order, but being sent in at No. 7 is reducing his effectiveness. Fakhar Zaman and Hafeez’s numbers keep fluctuating, and the pinch-hitting stocks of Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali dip when transitioning from T20s to T20Is. Can they come together to the best of their potential this time around?
With their two-first choice openers nursing injuries – Lendl Simmons was injured in the first match and Evin Lewis retired hurt in the second – Gayle could open alongside Andre Fletcher.
West Indies (probable): 1 Andre Fletcher, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Shimron Hetmyer 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk) 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Dwayne Bravo, 10 Hayden Walsh, 11 Akeal Hosein
It’s likely that Haris Rauf remains in the XI after he replaced Shaheen Shah Afridi for the washed-out third match. Azam Khan, however, could make it to the XI if he is cleared by the medical team.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Babar Azam, (capt) 4 Fakhar Zaman, 5 Mohammad Hafeez, 6 Sohaib Maqsood/Azam Khan, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Hasan Ali, 9 Mohammad Wasim, 10 Usman Qadir, 11 Haris Rauf
Pitch and conditions
With rain predicted for the week as a whole, there is a chance that the contest may be a shortened one. However, there is a clear window in the day but conditions are expected to be overcast. Win toss, bowl first may be the best bet.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
The Hundred – Welsh Fire’s Lungi Ngidi, Liam Plunkett ruled out
Welsh Fire extend Jimmy Neesham’s contract in their absence
Ngidi, who joined up with the squad ahead of their win against Southern Brave in Cardiff last week following South Africa’s tours of the Caribbean and Ireland, was due to replace Neesham ahead of Monday night’s fixture against Oval Invincibles, but will now return home instead. Neesham was due to play for Essex for the remainder of the Royal London Cup, but has agreed an extension and is available for the Invincibles fixture.
Both players are available for the fixture against the Invincibles. The Fire won their first two games of the competition, beating the Superchargers and the Brave, but were beaten in their first game without Bairstow, at home to Manchester Originals on Saturday.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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