04 December, 2020

Deep Backward Square

It's not 'lovely cricket' that kills but its loss, its empty after-hours

Illustration by Sorit
Deep Backward Square
There can be no denying the reality that cricket bears a burden of suicide which seems heavier than anything known in other sports. I've researched into this for several decades, and in 1990 wrote By His Own Hand, cricket's first major study of the subject. One upshot of the book was that people now knew where to direct their enquiries and discoveries on the matter. In a few years, so much additional and revised material had accumulated that I felt obliged to rewrite the book. It expanded from 80 case histories to 150 from all areas of the game.

It was my duty to try to sort out deaths for which cricket might have been to blame against those for which it was not. Keen to exonerate my beloved game, in many cases I established that men had been driven over the edge by the extreme crises which can afflict people generally: financial, physical, marital/sexual, sometimes all these factors combined, as in the case of Australian batsman Jim Burke, who shot himself in 1979. Personal pressures hit people in all walks of life, not just...


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