MUSCAT: The cricket fraternity in the Sultanate of Oman is in shock and disbelief after knowing the sudden demise of an amateur cricketer from Pakistan during an unofficial 'afternoon league' match on August 25, Friday.
Muhammad Jaffar, a 38-year-old cricketer, was playing in a tennis-ball league tournament, organized by MOCL, at Al Hail for the Modern XI side.
Speaking to Times of Oman, an eye-witness and teammate, Gulam Abbas: “Jaffar had just been dismissed and returned to the temporary team tent. He sat down on a chair and drank a glass of water before collapsing on the ground.
“I, along with a few other teammates, rushed him to the nearby hospital in Al Hail in my car. The doctors tried to resuscitate him for 20-25 minutes before declaring him dead.”
“Jaffar might have died of a heart attack,” Abbas said according to the hospital authorities.
Jaffar, who hailed from Gujarat in Pakistan and has been in Oman for over a decade, is survived by his mother, wife and four children.
Modern XI skipper Harish KS told Times of Oman that “the teammates and other teams of the league were left shell-shocked on the sudden demise of Jaffar.”
The incident happened around 4.30pm and it was quite hot that day.
Harish said: “The scorching heat makes it difficult for players and I request players to keep themselves hydrated and drink a lot of water while playing during the day.”
“He used to play for our team for the past many years. Earlier, he was working in different cities like Salalah and Duqm but recently he had moved to Muscat. Since coming to Muscat, he made it a point to play for us during the weekends. I knew him very well and this is the first time such a fatal incident has happened during my cricket career of the past ten years.”
With the support of fellow teammates, league organisers and well-wishers, the team in cooperation with the Pakistan Embassy were able to complete the formalities and repatriate his body in two days. His body was sent back to his home country on August 27
Harish said that the team members and other cricket-loving fans have generously supported the efforts and donated to repatriate his body and the team has now decided to help Jaffar’s family financially. “We plan to send some monetary assistance monthly to the family of Jaffar bhai. The team has joined hands together and we will make sure to help the family back in Pakistan. He was one among us and we need to provide support for the family,” said Harish.
Leading sports injury consultant, Dr E B S Ramanathan at Muscat Private Hospital, said: “Such incidents could be caused by cardiomyopathy, which could lead to heart failure. There could have been a prevailing condition that has not been detected in the player. This is why it is very important to go for tests for sportspersons.”
He added: “The most common heart muscle disease that causes sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle makes it harder for the heart to pump blood sufficiently to the rest of the body.”
Sudden cardiac death is a tragedy at any age and under any circumstances but is perhaps most tragic when it claims the life of the sportsperson, an individual who epitomises health and a healthy lifestyle. The death of Jaffar is a grim reminder that regular medical check-ups should be done by one and all.
The collapse of Jaffar on the ground is similar to the incident that happened earlier this year when a 38-year-old amateur badminton player collapsed while playing at the indoor courts before being declared dead on reaching hospital.