Pakistan cricketers shocked by Raja's sudden death
by AFP

Player:Javed Miandad, Wasim Raja, Rameez Raja

DateLine: 24th August 2006


Friends and colleagues of former Pakistan batsman Wasim Raja expressed shock on Thursday after his sudden death while playing in England.


Raja, 54, collapsed during a match for Surrey Over-50s after suffering a major heart-attack.


"The news was shocking for me and he died as a cricketer while playing a match which showed his love for cricket," former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad told AFP.


"He was a natural cricketer, a very fine all-rounder and very few cricketers in the world have played so well against the West Indies like Wasim."


Pakistani television channels broadcast breaking news bulletins late Wednesday announcing his death, and newspapers splashed with the news on their front pages.


Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam said that he could not believe the news.


"He was a young man, a nice fellow and played a lot of cricket under my captaincy," Alam said.


Pakistan Cricket Board director Saleem Altaf hailed Wasim as a gentleman and a fine cricketer.


"We played together a lot and he was one of my closest friends. I am deeply shocked by his tragic news," the Dawn newspaper quoted Altaf as saying.


Wasim, the brother of fellow Pakistan international Rameez Raja, was a left-handed middle-order batsman who went on to become an ICC match referee.


He settled in England after studying at Durham University and marrying an Englishwoman.


Wasim came from a cricketing family. His father, the late Saleem Akhtar, and two younger brothers, Zaeem and Rameez, all played first-class cricket. 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 Pakistan's 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.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)