Suicide in cricket is something which is unheard off. The game is played with a lot of passion and players usually, take victory and losses in their stride.
But then if you look deep into the world of cricketers it is not that simple. Cricket historian and journalist David Frith’s second book on the issue ‘Silence of the Heart: Cricket Suicides’ which he wrote in partnership with former England captain Mike Brearley had a whopping 151 death cases.
The book was released in 2001 and almost 16 years later the number has only increased. Some of the 151 in Frith’s book had long-standing depressive illnesses and mental health issues. Others had been left devastated by marital break-ups, financial problems, terminal illness or other incapacity.
Many of them took their lives in the gloaming years when the thrill of competition was gone and middle age was setting in.
Here in this article, we try to list 5 names from the game who committed suicide.
#5 Harold Gimblett
Gimblett in those days was a treat to watch. He was an exceptionally talented hard-hitting batsman for Somerset. On his debut for his club the batter smashed his way to 125 runs in just 65 minutes and before long his hitting had become a stuff of folklore.
He was soon chosen to represent England. And he played the game with a lot of aggression and finesse. Gimblett once hit three sixes in an over in which his partner had complained about the fading light. But he was plagued with mental problems throughout his career and post-retirement.
In 1978, aged 63 Gimblett committed suicide after taking an overdose of prescription drugs. He was survived by his wife, Marguerita (Rita), whom he married in 1938, and by a son.
#4 Aubrey Faulkner
Faulkner was a star all-rounder for South Africa during the beginning of the early 1900s. He featured in 25 Tests where he scored 1754 runs with the highest score of 204. He also averaged a handsome 40.79.
With the ball, he had picked up 82 Test wickets with best figures of 7/84.
Faulkner served in the British Army in World War I where he was diagnosed with malaria. He recovered from it and after the war tried to get back into professional cricket again. But his comeback was less than spectacular and he retired after just one game.
Post retirement Faulkner started a cricket school in London, the first of its kind then where he successfully nurtured players like Doug Wright, Ian Peebles, and Denis Tomlinson. But the school was not a financial success and Faulkner began to suffer from extended periods of depression.
On 10 September 1930, in a small store room at his cricket school, Faulkner gassed himself. He was 48.
#3 David Bairstow
Father of present England Test wicket keeper Jonny, David Bairstow represented his country in 4 Test matches and 21 ODIs. He was a talisman for Yorkshire where he played 459 First Class and 429 List A matches.
David had made his Yorkshire debut as a 18-year-old who wrote his English Literature paper in the morning and later donned the gloves for the club.
He was also a fierce batsman and was a master at run-chases in the limited overs format. He once took Yorkshire to victory when 80 was required with just one wicket left.
After his retirement from playing in 1990, David took to commentary. However, he engaged in arguments with the Yorkshire management, and also suffered from depression. In late 1997, Bairstow took an overdose of tablets in an attempt to commit suicide but somehow he survived.
On January 5, 1998, he hanged himself at his home in Marton-cum-Grafton, Yorkshire reportedly because of financial troubles and his wife’s illness.
#2 Halima Rafiq
Halima was a Pakistani woman cricketer from Multan. She rose to the headlines after accusing the then Multan Cricket Club chairman Muhammad Sultan Alam Ansari of sexual harassment during a cricket match in Multan Cricket Stadium.
Her teammates too supported her in the act. She claimed that Ansari along with team selector Mohammad Javed demanded sexual favours from her in return for places in the regional and national cricket teams.
After some days she started complaining that she was being threatened and harassed by the Multan Cricket Board.
Ansari thereafter sued Rafiq for Rs. 20 million for making false accusations and attempted defamation. On July 13, 2014, Halima took her own life by ingesting acid.
#1 Peter Roebuck
Roebuck played 335 First Class matches in England representing Somerset, where he scored 17,558 runs but never got to represent England.
In 298 one-day matches, he scored 7244 runs at 29.81 while taking 51 wickets at 25.09. After retiring as a player Roebuck took to journalism and wrote columns for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age (Melbourne) and ESPNcricinfo and commentated on the radio.
In November 2011, Roebuck arrived in Cape Town to cover a Test Match between South Africa and Australia for The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
In the Southern Sun Hotel where he was staying, police arrived a day later with a desire to speak to him about an alleged sexual assault on a 26-year-old Zimbabwean man. The man had complained that Roebuck had sexually assaulted him leaving him feeling suicidal.
That very day Roebuck jumped from the sixth floor of the hotel and died.