LAHORE: Renowned curator and former Pakistan Cricket Board’s head groundsman Haji Mohammad Bashir and Akbar Ali, another groundsman who was currently working at the LCCA Ground, both died of cardiac arrest here on Wednesday.
After a couple of hours news of Akbar passing away was received it was reported that had also died.
After his retirement, Bashir remained with the PCB on contract basis till 2018. He was 78. Bashir joined the PCB as an assistant groundsman back in 1959, when the Gaddafi Stadium, as Lahore Stadium, hosted the first Test between Pakistan and Australia. During his 61-year affiliation with this field as professional, Bashir played an important role in making and maintaining majority of pitches and grounds currently available to cricketers across Pakistan.
In an interview with Dawn, Bashir had said that the most memorable Test match witnessed by him at the Gaddafi Stadium was the 1978 game between Pakistan and India. Pakistan won the match by eight wickets.
After leaving the PCB, Bashir joined the High Performance Centre of Lahore Qalandars, a Pakistan Super League franchise, which turned out to be his last assignment.
Meanwhile the 34-year-old Akbar was working at the LCCA ground when he felt pain in his chest. Though he was rushed to a nearby hospital, he could not get proper treatment. From there, a colleague of Akbar was taking him to the General Hospital on a motorbike, when suddenly Akbar on the way fell and was later pronounced dead by doctors.
He was one of the three surviving groundsmen, who were working with the LCCA. Five others have been sacked by the defunct Lahore region management after the PCB in 2019 ended its contribution to the salaries of the 243 groundsmen working with 16 regional bodies. The PCB has dissolved the regional system and replaced it with a six-team province-based system. However, it seems the Board management did not think much about the future of the groundsmen.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2020