The sporting community in Malaysia has been rocked by the death of Ranjit Singh Sidhu. He was one of the country’s leading dual sport internationals, having represented Malaysia in the disciplines of hockey and cricket.
Sidhu played as a right fullback in hockey and was a part of the Malaysian squad for the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games. In cricket, he enjoyed a long and fruitful run in the national team from 1960 to 1982, and played at the ICC Trophy in 1982. His 22 year career coincided with Singapore leaving the Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) in 1965 after gaining independence, as well as MCA attaining ICC associate member status in 1967.
According to his younger brother Harbhajan, Sidhu died of heart failure at the KPJ Sentosa Specialist Hospital, where he was seeking treatment for cellulitis. He leaves behind daughter Katherine Mahani in Penang, and sons Daniel in Australia and Damian in London.
One of Sidhu’s close friends Terry Tharmanathan, who played hockey and cricket at local league matches, described his passing as a very sad day for Malaysia.
“Ranjit was a deft sportsman, who was skilful in both sports. He was feared by many an opponent when he took to the field. We will all miss him greatly,” said Tharmanathan.
A native of Selangor state, Sidhu was an attacking batsman and a metronomic medium pace bowler. He had a prolific record, especially in the domestic tournaments.
Speaking with New Straits Times, former national cricket captain Hector Durairatnam referred to Sidhu as a national sporting icon.
‘In all, Ranjit scored an unbelievable 25 centuries. In the MCA League, teams like Kedah, Penang, Perak, Melaka, Johor and even Singapore bore the brunt of Ranjit’s thirst for runs. Ranjit was also a very good medium pace bowler and his accuracy and prowess led his teammates to name him the ‘Machine.”
‘Ranjit was an automatic choice in the national team for the 1982 Mini World Cup and the ICC Trophy in Birmingham, 1982. It was here that he struck the first ball for a six in the first match that Malaysia played. This was against a strong Bermuda team,’ Durairatnam further reminisced.
Sidhu had previously been inducted into the MCA ‘Hall of Fame’ for his cricketing achievements.
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