It’s challenging to wish everyone a Happy New Year when struck with the news of deaths to Sport stars so early in the year. First it was Tony Greig who already passed away late December 2012, still in the old year but just on the brink of the new year. He reportedly died of a heart attack after battling lung cancer for some time. He was aged 66, and tributes have poured in for the former cricketing legend who graced us with his deligthful commentary and insight in all things cricket. He will be sorely missed.
Little that we know that dreadful news would hit us as the year kicked-off. Olympic Mountain Biker, Burry Stander,who we all cheered on as he took part in the final of the men’s cross-country mountain bike event in London last year, and narrowly missed out on a medal, was reportedly struck and killed by a taxi whilst training in Shelly Beach, KzN. Memorial rides were arranged almost immediately with a Ghost Bike mounted at the place he was killed. A young star, 25 years old, killed way before his time.
His death sparked outrage in the cycling community, as dozens of cyclists are killed annually on the roads. On the 31st December another cyclist ended up in critical condition after being hit by a vehicle and not long after Burry’s death, it was reported that in Richards Bay a female cyclists was the victim of a reckless driver and ended up in critical condition in the hospital. Whether she survived is not known.
Alas, the bad news wasn’t over yet. John E Commins, ex- WP Spin bowler was reportedly murdered in his home on the 2nd January. He played 10 matches for the WPCU between 1961 and 1968 and as a leg-spinner, he took 27 first-class wickets at an average of 27.77 with a best bowling performance of 5-32. He was 71 years old at the time of his death.
Commins was the youngest brother of former WP CEO Kevin Commins and uncle of John Commins who represented the Proteas in the 1990s.
And as if that wasn’t enough to start the year of in grim fashion, it was then reported a few days later that the former South Africa fast bowler, Neil Adcock has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 81. Cricket South Africa said that Adcock died on Sunday after contracting pneumonia. He played 26 tests for South Africa between 1953 and 1962 and was chosen by the respected Wisden Cricket Almanack as one of its five cricketers of the year in 1961 following his 26 wickets at 22.52 during South Africa’s series in England in 1960.
CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul paid tribute to Adcock as “one of the great fast bowlers during what was truly a golden era of fast bowling” and said he formed “South Africa’s first great new ball attack” with the late Peter Heine.
Adcock took 104 career wickets at an average of 21.10.
It’s been a very sad note to the start of 2013. If one was superstitious, one could deem the entire 2013 like a Friday the 13th…unlucky for some. Well, the start of the year would most certainly convince those superstitious ones that it is indeed gonna be a year of bad luck.
But as South Africans, I think we’ve learned how to be forever hopeful for things to get better while faced with dispair. We don’t give up. We don’t lie down. We don’t back down. And as long as we have hope, we have a chance.
With this bad start to the new year, all I can really says is that I wish you all a year in which you will be safe and healthy. Look after yourslves and each other.