Former Israeli cricket star Hillel Oscar died after he was hit by the ball Saturday while refereeing a cricket match in the coastal city of Ashdod.
The umpire, former national team captain Oscar, 55, was taken to a local hospital unconscious after being struck in the head by a ball during a game, but doctors were unable to save his life.
The incident came a few days after a 25-year-old Australian cricketer died after being hit at the base of the neck by a ball. Phillip Hughes suffered a dissected vertebral artery. His death was a very rare instance of cricket players dying on the field. The teams in the Ashdod game had held a minute’s silence in honor of Hughes before their ill-fated game.
Saturday’s game, the last in the national league season, took place on a pitch across the street from the police station in Ashdod.
One of the players told Channel 10 that the incident happened when a batsman struck a ball with tremendous power and it rebounded off the stumps and hit Oscar, who was umpiring the game.
Referee age 60 injured seriously during cricket game in Ashdod as struck in head by ball. Police examining incident. pic.twitter.com/kxeWwPVD2q
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) November 29, 2014
“The ball flew in the direction of the umpire with great force, struck the wicket and hit him in the face,” the player said.
Oscar was not wearing a protective helmet, the player added. Umpires in cricket do not wear such helmets, since the likelihood of injury is regarded as extremely low. However, death is not entirely unprecedented. In Wales five years ago, a 72-year-old umpire died after he was hit on the head by a ball thrown by a fielder.
When paramedics arrived at the Ashdod game, Oscar wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.
He was rushed to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital, but doctors were unable to save his life.
Police said on Twitter that they’d opened an investigation into the incident.
The Israel Cricket Association’s CEO, Naor Gudker, said of Oscar: “The entire Israel Cricket Association and players bow their heads in his memory. He was a wonderful man, cricketer, and umpire.”
Israeli cricket coach and player Herschel Gutman posted on Facebook, “Today, another cricketing tragedy has taken the life of our very own Hillel Oscar the former Israeli Cricket Captain. Hillel was umpiring during the game between Young Ashdod and Super Lions Lod, when a ball that was hit by a batsman struck Hillel below the jaw. All of the Israel cricket family is in deep mourning at his passing.
“Hillel was a very well respected man who played the game in a fantastic spirit. He first represented Israel in 1982 and made his last appearance for Israel in 2006. He captained the team on a number of occasions,” Gutman added.