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The tragic death of Raman Lamba

When fielding at forward short-leg without a helmet on cost an Indian international his life

Martin Williamson

August 14, 2010

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Lamba pictured in his Irish sweater as he was the Ireland professional for several years.
Lamba fielding close in during an Ireland club game Bill McLeod / © Bill McLeod
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While traditionalists might still moan about their effect on the aesthetics of the game, there is little doubt the introduction of helmets in the last three decades has reduced the number of serious injuries in cricket, to both batsmen and fielders.

It remains, nevertheless, a potentially dangerous sport, and while almost all batsmen now wear protective equipment, a few close fielders prefer not to wear helmets, arguing they have an adverse effect on balance and reactions. They would do well to remember the sad case of Raman Lamba.

Lamba was an aggressive, if technically slightly suspect, batsman, whose career had promised much but never quite reached the heights expected. He arrived in style, smacking a hundred and two fifties in six ODIs against Australia in 1986-87, but his next five one-dayers produced only eight runs and by the late 1980s, and after a fair number of chances, he had been discarded. Four Tests were equally unproductive and despite scoring heavily in domestic cricket, he was not picked again.

He became a gun for hire, playing club cricket in Ireland - as well as representing them as their overseas player - and marrying an Irish girl. He also played club cricket in Bangladesh, which, although it had yet to gain full international status, had a vibrant club scene, attracting some good-quality players from overseas. Lamba was one of the early pioneers, first playing there in 1991 and telling friends that he was "the Don of Dhaka".

On February 20, 1998, Lamba was fielding for Abahani Krira Chakra against Mohammedan Sporting in Dhaka's Premier League at the Bangabandhu Stadium when he was summoned from the outfield to go to short leg.

Khaled Mashud was captaining Abahani Krira Chakra in the absence of the regular skipper. "I brought on the left-arm spinner for that one over and after three balls I decided to change the field. I looked around and I saw Raman and asked him to stand at forward short-leg." Mashud asked him if he wanted a helmet but Lamba said that "it was just three balls and so it wouldn't be a problem".

The delivery from Saifullah Khan was short and Mehrab Hossain pulled it hard, hitting Lamba in the forehead with such force it rebounded beyond Mashud, the wicketkeeper, who had to backpedal to take the catch. ''I knew Mehrab was out," Mashud said. "But when the other players gathered around me to celebrate, I looked for Raman. He was lying on the ground."

Lamba was well enough to get up and after reassuring fielders he was okay, unassisted he slowly made his way back to the dressing room. The team doctor told him to lie down and gave him water to drink, but after a few minutes Lamba told team-mates he felt unwell and was rushed to hospital. By the time he got there he had lost consciousness, and after he suffered convulsions, surgeons operated to a remove a blood clot from the left side of his brain. A specialist was flown in from Delhi but returned almost straightaway, saying there was no hope of recovery.

Three days after he was hit, Lamba's life support was turned off with the approval of his family. His wife, Kim, who had flown in from Delhi to be with him was at his bedside along with their five-year-old son and three-year daughter.

"He was at a private hospital first and then moved to the government hospital, but it was too late," Mashud said. "'He died because we did not have good medical facilities then."

"Raman's death was a big jolt," Kapil Dev said at the time. "It was as if the entire earth had moved under one's feet. This is a lesson for every cricketer to take precautions to avert such tragedies."

Understandably the incident affected Mehrab considerably. ''He couldn't sleep for two or three days,'' Mashud recalled. He even spent a spell away from the game, but eventually returned and went on to play for Bangladesh.

Aminul Islam, the former Bangladesh captain who was the non-striker when Lamba was struck, said that Lamba's role in helping take the country to Test status should not be overlooked. "Had Raman been alive, he would have been proud to see how far Bangladesh cricket has come. He was very dear to us, and remains one of our best cricket friends. He did a lot for Bangladesh cricket. I wrote a column in a newspaper on some memorable moments spent with Raman. And when I sat down to write it, I cried.

"Bangladesh loved Lamba, a stand in his name at the Bangabandhu Stadium was promised. But they don't even play cricket there now."

"He always dressed young, thought young and played young," Vijay Lokapally wrote in the Hindu. "Alas, he died young."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by real2020 on (August 17, 2010, 18:27 GMT)

Kim, thanks for writing to this forum. Our prayers are always for Raman and for you and the kids. Every year this time my heart becomes very saddened. I still recall my childhood memories in Dhaka following cricket specially Raman Lamba being in those matches. Raman Lamba resides in every Bangladeshi cricket fan's heart like mine.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2010, 4:21 GMT)

Kim Lamba

Good to hear from you. I always wanted to know how Raman lamba's family was doing. Do you guys live in india... regards

Posted by   on (August 17, 2010, 1:08 GMT)

i cried after the incident. one of days when you dont get injurted just before that ball, nor it rains so that the game get stopped. i was praying to god, i dont know how but just keep him alive. Raman was a hero and always will be. such a cricketer comes only once in 100 years. the stats may not say alot abt him but he was such a man. cricket is just beautiful for players like him. RIP Raman. You were, you are and you will be our hero all the time

Posted by Trickstar on (August 16, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

@KimLamba Great to hear that you and your family are well and doing great. Raman would be very proud of Indian & Bangladesh cricket today . Gone but not forgotten throughout the world.

Posted by theocrat on (August 16, 2010, 18:02 GMT)

It truly is a sad story especially for kim and her children, but there is hope of you'll really seeing him again and actually spending time together just as before,of course not in this present life, but in the very near future. Accept a free study of the bible from jehovah's witnesses to learn more about this hope.

Posted by 777aditya on (August 16, 2010, 17:10 GMT)

I still dont believe that Raman is no more. As a kid, I watched a few Indian wins with W. V. Raman and Raman Lamba as openers. May his soul rest in eternal peace - God bless his family. Let's hope Kamran proves to be a chip of the old block and plays for India in the future

Posted by AIRkris on (August 16, 2010, 16:27 GMT)

god bless lamba nd his family

Posted by KimLamba on (August 16, 2010, 13:51 GMT)

Hi there, this Kim Lamba, Raman´s wife. It is heartwarming to read these comments and I convey my thanks to the author of this article. I´d like to share with you, that myself and our children; Jasmyn now 18 and Kamran now 15 are all doing well. Jasmyn is studying sports and Kamran is still in high school attaining great grades. He is extremely intelligent - taking after his father. They say with time, everything fades, but I can assure you in the case of Raman Lamba this is most definately not the case. As the children grow Raman´s presence is felt more and more, Jasmyn looks just like him, she is very beautiful, astute and has his fire and bullheadedness, Kamran has his facial expressions (especially around the eyes) and his extreme intellgence and softness of charachter. I am very blessed to have had a decade of bliss with Raman and am left with a lifetime of memories. I am still happily living in the world of Raman Lamba. I´m so glad you remember him so vividly too. God Bless Kim

Posted by Gibbs1987 on (August 16, 2010, 13:28 GMT)

Just yesterday at a club game someone asked me if he should bother wearing a helmet as the wicket was damp and very slow......I said to him you just never know and it was not worth taking the risk. The story above is just such a stark reminder of how quickly things can happen. RIP fellow cricketer.

Posted by Rajesh. on (August 16, 2010, 8:17 GMT)

I remember this like yesterday............. was such a such day. Raman Lamba was one of the fittest cricketers and may well have played even beyond 45. What a tragic end.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2010, 22:54 GMT)

Passion in a Sport leads to anything to dare with. Ultimately, he is the warrior in the fight of the game. People with admire and take this as a great inspiration. I really dint know about this great player and as I am passionate about cricket, I really admire him and move forward with lots of spirit, courage and enjoy the game for the fullest.

*Lamba, you are really a master blaster of this game of cricket*...

Posted by   on (August 15, 2010, 19:19 GMT)

such a sad and tragic story...may his soul RIP.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2010, 15:44 GMT)

bangladesh will do good to remember raman lamba in more lasting and memorable ways.after all raman was the man who was the man who made the recognition of bangladesh in cricket field possible

naming a stadium or a tournament on his name is the least bangla desh can do to remember him

Posted by AshokSoni on (August 15, 2010, 6:29 GMT)

While residing now a days in USA CALIFORNIA & Reading this Article has reminded me the day I played against Raman Lamba when he started playing DDCA LEAGUE IN E DIVISON REPRESENTING INDIAN AIRLINES ALONGWITH ASHOK MALHOTRA I was representing RANI BAGH CRICKET CLUB at Delhi I scored 50 odd runs & my team was able to score a sizeable total But splendid batting by Raman Lamba who scored a century helped Airlines team to defeat my team Ultimately me & Lamba could play A Division representing different teams. From that day I became a great fan of Raman Lamba who represented India. Best about his cricket was that he has the hunger to conquer & always tried to perform & tried to play natural attacking whether it was gully cricket or highest lnternation level. Most of the times he succeeded! I join you as well many of his fans & feel very sad remembering his rare tragic death on the field of cricket he deserves stadium named after him even in Delhi/India as well in BDesh Ashok Soni.

Posted by ww113 on (August 15, 2010, 3:33 GMT)

Very sad indeed.Javed Miandad has written in his autobiography"Cutting Edge" that he was hit by a Dennis Lillee bouncer while playing an exhibition game in India in 1984 and was later told by the doctors that he had been in a critical condition.He did not use a helmet before this but always used one afterwards.

Posted by McGorium on (August 15, 2010, 0:01 GMT)

@CricketIndiaFanatic: Yes, genius. It's in the title: "The tragic death of Raman Lamba". The point of this article was not to point out his contribution to Bangladesh cricket, but the manner of his tragic death. Perhaps also a reminder to the show-offs like Greig and Richards, who kept claiming that they were better because they didn't wear helmets. Nari Contractor once got hit, and it ended his career. On the other hand, it's rare for short-leg fielders to get hit on the head (I can't remember any in all the matches I've seen, but why risk it?). Lamba's story serves as a reminder to those who claim that helmets are for sissies. (BTW, if Viv was a real man, he should've played without the Abdomen guard as well. Getting hit there won't kill you, will it? What's the difference between wearing an abdomen guard, pads, gloves, etc and one more piece of protection for the head? But as I heard Tony Grieg himself once say, it tells you how men think: wearing the box guard but not helmets.)

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 19:17 GMT)

stylish player with a unique shuffling batting stance..!!

Posted by Vasi-Koosi on (August 14, 2010, 18:28 GMT)

Lamba did not get his feet in international cricket. One of the early cricketers to hit a six over point. Life is not bigger than a game, but for some "The game is their life". They would do anything to make a difference. Lamba will be remembered for the difference he made

Posted by Edelweiss on (August 14, 2010, 18:08 GMT)

I always tell my children about this star called Lambha. I am an ardent follower of the game and have watched Raman play for India. He had a very unique habit of removing both his gloves when ever he was at the non-striker's end. This made me think probably this act of his made me give him an identity trait. Every cricketer has some unique way of displaying his presence on the field and this was how Raman behaved and it is etched in my mind. Also I had heard that he was a gentle of a character and thats why the Irish woman may have found a gentle soul in an Indian guy. I was saddened by his untimely death, but in his death Raman has left behind a legacy of being a gentleman to the cause of cricket and a lesson for all the cricketers to know the importance of wearing the protective gear while on the field. May his soul rest in peace and thanks a lot to the author of this article.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 18:05 GMT)

Good to see a tribute to Raman Lamba on cricinfo. I fondly remember that 1986-87 series and I was not the only one who thought India had found another star cricketer. And I sadly remember getting the news of his untimely passing. A handsome man and handsome batsman he was though couldn't build on his promising start. Still he won many hearts. Thanks for taking some of us back down memory lane Martin.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 17:15 GMT)

May his soul rests in peace......Bangladesh cricket is ever least a stand in da current Home of Cricket in Dhaka....da Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium shud b named aftr him....

Posted by CricketIndiaFanatic on (August 14, 2010, 16:48 GMT)

Reading the article and the comments I feel that Raman Lamba as a player and his contribution to Bangladesh cricket is being remembered solely because of his Tragic death. There are many players like him who are not being remembered even as a player because they are living. Many of them are even not well off financially. If Cricinfo believes in the spirit of cricket than please post regular articles about our past players irrespective of their amount of contribution to cricket.

Posted by Nuur on (August 14, 2010, 16:35 GMT)

may his soul rest in peace.

Posted by ishteeliton on (August 14, 2010, 16:19 GMT)

So sorry to know the history after a long lime. I think we should have a stand in his name in the Banbabandhu stadium. Concern people to take action please.

Posted by dodinss on (August 14, 2010, 16:09 GMT)

Him and Surinder Khanna were the original blasters who opened in Internationals. However it did not last long enough for the entire cricketing world to recognize them.

Posted by svenkat02 on (August 14, 2010, 16:02 GMT)

This story shows that cricket is a dangerous game, and is not worth giving your life for (for that matter, anything is not worth giving your life for). When people like Vivian Richards and Michael Atherton boast about how players of those days batted without helmets and how they were more like men, they should remember that they were lucky not to be hit. No person can have 100% concentration and not miss even a single ball. It boils down to luck. If you miss a single ball and it hits your head, you can see what can happen. So to Viv, Mike and others - stop boasting! Feel sad for Raman.

Posted by ravithecricbuff on (August 14, 2010, 15:36 GMT)

May his soul R.I.P.............and to all those cricketers from old generation who take pride in playing without protection and look current players lowley(eg: Tony Greig), this is an Eye Opener...LIFE is not bigger than a GAME...

Posted by CricSupporter on (August 14, 2010, 15:26 GMT)

@Ashok Rajasingh@ Just to clarfiy, Lamba was completely failed against Imran Khan. In fact Imran Khan's bowling was one of the factor which destroyed his career.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 15:25 GMT)

Very sad to hear it..R.I.P his soul and nice of Bangaldeshi Cricketers to have remembered him

Posted by rony_de on (August 14, 2010, 15:20 GMT)

Thanks for the article. I still remember one sweep shot of Raman in Bongobondhu national stadium and it is unforgettable. Thousand salute to one of the BD cricket's good friend.

Posted by delhiwala1 on (August 14, 2010, 13:38 GMT)

unique strock that Ashok mentioned was six over covers. Lamba used to stand outside the leg stump exposing all 3 wickets to bowler in his initial stance but while bowler was about to release the ball he used to shuffle across the stumps covering all the stumps. he was highly successful on his debut against aussies and i became his immediate fan but in later series WI greats like Marshall and roberts were quick to pounce on this unique shuffling movement his trapping him LBW in front of wickets many times.

Posted by dodinss on (August 14, 2010, 13:35 GMT)

He was a good man. Played a lot of very close games in Delhi in the mid seventies.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 13:10 GMT)

I remember his cousin studied in our school when I was about 10 , it use to be a hype when Raman came over to see him, He may not have reached all his credentials but he will always be remembered for his flamboyance & light heartedness. I hope is family is doing Thanks for this article.

Posted by lucyferr on (August 14, 2010, 12:55 GMT)

I remember this well - it happened around the same time (before, after, don't remember) that a kid in the school next to mine died in a similar incident, and I remember feeling terribly sorry for the batsman. Glad that in this case the batsman managed to make it back to the sport.... I also remember reading how devastated his wife (Kim) was. How's she doing now? And the kids - teenagers now - how are they doing? Are they playing cricket or staying as far from the sport as possible?

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 12:46 GMT)

He met Kim while playing at Ballymena CC (see photo), where he is loved and missed to this day. Your article will be warmly received here.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 12:12 GMT)

I was there in the gallaery on the eventful day. After getting hit on the forehead, I thought he should go to the pavallion and see the Doctor. I felt, I should shout and ask him to go out of the field when I saw him started fielding agian. And the rest of the story became history for Bangladesh Cricket. But Lamba (meaning the tall guy in Bangla) will remain in the memory of teh Cricket lovers in Bangaldesh. He was probably the most stunning batsman the Dhaka cricket ever seen. Premier Crcket in Dhaka may introduce a Best Fielder Award named Lamba Award to pay respect to the one who help flourish Dhaka cricket ................

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 11:55 GMT)

I still remember Lamba's unique stroke on the off side - he would jump out to fast bowlers & hit them over backward point six. Top bowlers like Imran Khan & the Australians got treated like spinners. We do not see that stroke played by anyone else even in 20/20 cricket today.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 11:41 GMT)

May His Soul Rest In Peace...

Posted by chokkashokka on (August 14, 2010, 11:06 GMT)

This was a genuinely good guy. He was my next door neighbor when I was growing up - much older than me but always great to talk to and generous with his knowledge and encouragement. I was a kid playing street cricket and he would always play with us for a few minutes - and he was a lot of fun. Tragic to see a promising life end in that manner - wish the player's associations were more vigilant about player safety back in those days. His memory will always be alive with us.

Posted by RogerC on (August 14, 2010, 10:39 GMT)

Well written article, thanks for reminding me of my teenage hero.

Posted by rajeev on (August 14, 2010, 10:17 GMT)

THANKS Mr Williamson for bringing memories back--firstly i was deeply saddened and was in tear's when i heard of Raman's death--and after a very long time know now in detail how this wonderful HUMBLE person died--when in India,i used to work in a night club in Delhi in the early 80's that he used to visit and when i told him where i lived--he said that when he was in the neighborhood and visited other Delhi cricketer's Karan Dubey and Bish Bedi--he would visit me too and he did --more than a few time's-and all my family--still have extremely fond memories of his visit's--he was extemly down to earth--and a very funny man--was the Sienfeld of my generation--unlike Mr Kirti Azad--who also visited the club and i played cricket against his morden school(but Mr K AZ was big shot-thanks to his dad )

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 10:12 GMT)

Thank u cricinfo to remind me again....raman lamba....

Posted by SibaMohanty on (August 14, 2010, 9:48 GMT)

Always stylish and young. Rest in peace, Raman.

Posted by Bang_La on (August 14, 2010, 7:11 GMT)

I saw him play. His fitness and aggressive batting and above all his leading the younger players will always be an example as a great player. It was horrific and I pray for his eternal piece with my salue to his commitment to cricket.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2010, 6:44 GMT)

One Cricketer who should remember Lamba day in and day out is Md. Azharuddin. I still vaguely remember that it was Lamba's illness which allowed Azar to play in the test series in Pak and Azar scored a century. On returning to India, to everyones surprise, Srikanth was removed as captain and Azar was made the captain.

Posted by virtualshah on (August 14, 2010, 6:14 GMT)

RAMAN LAMBA was a color to BD cricket then, our domestic cricket was in great level and competitive then. Tribute to Raman ; our cricket's good friend.

Posted by nataraajds on (August 14, 2010, 5:50 GMT)

what a tragic end for a promising cricketor. i remember his cricketing days.he was a dashing opener from delhi and then palyed for India. may we pray for your soul.

Posted by asaduzzaman-khan on (August 14, 2010, 5:37 GMT)

When I was too young, Lamba was one of the in-form overseas player in Bangladesh domestic cricket. Truthfully, he was very favorite to me. When I heard about his death, I could not stop tearing. I agree Aminul Islam, Raman Lamba had a lot of influence and contribution to our cricket history. We still remember you, Lamba. Thanks Martin Williamson for this article.

Posted by jamilbd on (August 14, 2010, 5:18 GMT)

R. Lamba was a role for Bangladesh cricket....we all remember his contribution for the cricket. R. Lamba, where ever you go..we love you.

Posted by bharath74 on (August 14, 2010, 4:53 GMT)

I will always remember Raman Lamba for his contribution to Indian Cricket, i remember the series against Australia where he scored brilliantly. He became a heartthrob at that time. we miss u Lamba, RIP

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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