River tragedy claims life of promising young cricketer
Published on: 01 Jul 2016
THE Bristol cricket community remains in shock following the death of 20-year-old Hamza Shabbir after what appears to be a tragic accident in the River Avon at Saltford.
The 20-year-old was airlifted to the BRI after being pulled out of the water, but was pronounced dead hours later.
Hamza, who dreamed of becoming a professional cricketer, played the last two seasons for Stapleton before joining Downend this summer in a bid to further his ambition of reaching the top.
He had already appeared this season for MCC Young Cricketers and Hampshire’s 2nd XI, and was earning a reputation for being one of the quickest and most promising bowlers in the country.
Only four days before his death, Hamza had opened the bowling for Downend and showcased his athleticism by running in from the sightscreensagainst Bridgwater, taking a couple of wickets.
Downend captain Matt Jackson has played with and against a long list of professional cricketers over many years, and he was hugely impressed by what he saw from Hamza.
He said: “All Hamza wanted to do was bowl … he had every chance of going all the way.”
Players and officials from Downend, Stapleton, Easton Tigers and a host of clubs across Bristol were amongst more than 1,500 mourners who attended Hamza’s funeral, staged on the outfield of Pak Bristolians in Whitehall.
MCC head coach Steve Kirby, the former Gloucestershire and Somerset bowler who coached Hamza this year, and former Stapleton clubmate Andy Chidgey both spoke at the emotional ceremony.
In a statement released by MCC, Kirby said: "Everyone at MCC is devastated and saddened to hear the tragic news of Hamza’s death.
"He greatly impressed us with his energy, enthusiasm and exceptional all-round talent.
"In the short time he was with the squad, he made quite an impact on all of us, on and off the field, with his friendly positive outlook.
"It was very clear to me from the start that Hamza's indomitable spirit, ambition and desire to be a professional cricketer was there in abundance - he was never beaten."
Phil Johns, a Stapleton stalwart, used to give Hamza, who also appeared in youth teams games for the historic club, a lift home after matches.
He said: “He was a lovely lad who just wanted to play cricket. Hamza was tremendous for us, helping us reach the Bristol & District Cup final last year with his batting and bowling, what's happened is terribly sad and a real shock.”