Hit on head by ball from another match, cricketer dies at Mumbai ground | Crickit
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Hit on head by ball from another match, cricketer dies at Mumbai ground

Jan 10, 2024 03:11 PM IST

Savla, a businessman from Bhayandar, was immediately rushed to Sion Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival

Tragedy struck during a cricket match at Matunga’s Major Dhadkar Maidan on Monday when a player died on the spot after being hit on the head while fielding.

Matches being played at Matunga’s Major Dhadkar Maidan on Tuesday. The risk at Mumbai’s maidans is that the matches are played on pitches adjacent to each other. (HT Photo)
Matches being played at Matunga’s Major Dhadkar Maidan on Tuesday. The risk at Mumbai’s maidans is that the matches are played on pitches adjacent to each other. (HT Photo)

The deceased, Jayesh Savla, 52, was part of the Kutchi Community’s cricket tournament for veterans being played at Dadar Union Sporting Club.

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The position Savla was fielding at was very close to another game being played at the adjacent Dadar Parsee Colony pitch. Savla had no time to react when the batter near him played a powerful pull shot in his direction. The ball struck the back of his head as he instinctively turned around.

Savla, a businessman from Bhayandar, was immediately rushed to Sion Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. His funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon.

Narrating the incident, Rohit Gangar, who also plays in the eight-team tournament - Vikas Legend Kutchi Cricket Cup (for 50 plus) – said, “We had two matches on Monday afternoon, one at Dadar Union and the second at Dadar Parsee Colony pitch. Savla was playing for Gala Rocks against Master Blaster and was positioned at point when the DPC game’s batter hit a pull shot. The ball hit him on the back of his head, exactly where Australia’s Phil Hughes had been hit which led to his death.”

Jayesh Savla, deceased
Jayesh Savla, deceased

The incident has shaken up the city’s cricketing circles. The mood at the Matunga maidan on Tuesday was sombre. The morning’s net sessions were cancelled. The talk at the ground centred around the safety of the cricketers during matches.

In pre-T20 days, playing on the maidans was not so risky. “The players would hit along the ground. After the advent of T20 cricket, it has become a power game. The moment the coach turns his back, the players start hitting aerial shots. In groundstrokes, you are hit on the legs but when it comes to aerial shots, your face or head is in danger,” said Ramesh Vazge, former managing committee member who coaches at New Hind SC ground.

Deaths due to head injuries have occurred during cricket games while fielding in close-in positions or by being hit by a bouncer. The risk at Mumbai’s maidans is that the matches are played on pitches adjacent to each other. Matunga and Cross Maidan have multiple grounds which are cramped together and don’t have much distance between them.

Sachin Koli, coach of IES Raje Shivaji (English Medium), who practices at the Matunga maidan, said: “If you get hit on any other part of the body, you will suffer a fracture but a hit on the head can result in death. So, we make our players fielding on the plots (pitch area) wear helmets compulsorily. There was an incident where a school player got hit on the shoulder, and after that we took this decision. For the small kids we have made it compulsory; the bigger players don’t wear it,” he added.

Vazge, who has also suffered broken teeth while fielding at the Matunga ground, said it was the first time he had heard of a death at the maidan in his 35 years of visiting it. “I broke my teeth while taking fielding practice here as my attention was diverted to a shot played towards my side. But this time, a player has died on the ground.”

Former Western Railway player Raja Bhosale, who coaches kids at the Matunga Premier School ground, doesn’t see any solution given the lack of space. “Often, in our matches we don’t place players close to the batters. We keep it open, at the cost of conceding runs,” he said.

Coach Ganesh, who watched the incident, advocated that teams should come to an understanding to have one match at a time.

Former Mumbai Ranji player Pradeep Kasliwal, who is a regular at the Matunga ground, feels there is need to develop more grounds on the outskirts of the city. “It is high time we should start moving away from the center of the city. We need to develop more grounds on the outskirts of Mumbai.”

Meanwhile, the Matunga police have registered an accidental death report (ADR) in the matter and are inquiring how two cricket matches that too with season ball were played so close to each other. “If the family has any complaint and after our inquiry, we will decide the further course of investigation,” said a police officer.

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