Israeli umpire dies after ball strikes his head

An umpire standing in an Israeli league cricket match in the city of Ashdod was killed after being struck by a ball on Saturday, Israeli police and a hospital spokeswoman said.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 30, 2014, 09:01 AM IST

Jerusalem: An umpire and former captain of Israel`s national cricket team died Saturday after being hit by a ball, just two days after the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes due to a freak head injury left the sports world reeling.

The Israel cricket association said Hillel Oscar died after being hit by a ball which had just been struck by a batsman.

Oscar, 55, was officiating in a match in the southern port city of Ashdod.

ICA chief Naor Gudker told AFP Saturday`s game was the last in the national league season.

"We`re simply in shock," he said from the hospital where Oscar was pronounced dead.

"He was an international umpire. He officiated in European championships, he officiated in games in Israel: his future was ahead of him," Gudker said.

"He was a player for the national Israeli team and he was captain of the national team."

Police said they were investigating his death.

"We know a ball was hit in his direction, he tried to escape it, he fell -- what happened there is still being investigated," Gudker told AFP.

"The entire Israel Cricket Association and players bow their heads in his memory. He was a wonderful man, cricketer, and umpire," Gudker said.

Israeli police have ruled out any foul play in the incident.

Fatal accidents are rare in cricket. But Oscar`s death comes just after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died of a severe head injury caused when he was hit by a ball during a New South Wales match in Sydney.

Hughes, who would have celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, collapsed face first onto the pitch after being struck by a bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott.

Hughes was wearing a helmet, but the rising ball struck him on the side of the neck in a "freakish accident", according to the Australian team doctor Peter Brukner.

The Australian international, who played 26 test matches and 25 one day internationals for his country, died on Thursday in hospital after never regaining consciousness.

His death has sparked a spontaneous #putoutyourbats tribute, which has gone viral.

On Sunday, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke wrote a moving birthday tribute to Hughes, calling him the brother he never had.

Clarke added that he has "struggled to comprehend how this tragedy could happen to one of life`s true characters and gentlemen".