For a third time in his life, wrong information on Saturday ‘killed’ former India Test all-rounder Syed Abid Ali. The fact is that the 78-year-old cricketer is absolutely fine at his home in California, he himself confirmed to Outlook on Sunday. The first time Abid Ali became the target of wrong news was in the mid-1990s, then at the start of this month, and on Saturday the social media was busy circulating the ‘news’ of his death, with many former cricketers writing expressing condolences. (More Cricket News)
When contacted at his residence in California on Sunday morning, Abid Ali, who turned 78 on September 7, sounded absolutely calm and composed as he confirmed that he was fine. “Wrong information has been floated on social media. By the grace of Almighty Allah, I am well here in California. All family members are well,” Abid Ali told Outlook before he went to bed.
“It was actually veteran Pakistani actor, director and producer Abid Ali who had passed away last month,” Abid Ali, who played 29 Tests and five ODIs between 1967 and 1975, informed. The Pakistani actor had died at the start of September. So, it is surprising that the rumours about Abid Ali’s ‘death’ circulated more than a month after the passing away of his namesake.
According to former Indian cricket team manager Man Singh, who is based in Hyderabad, the home city of Abid Ali, rumour of Abid Ali’s death had circulated in his city twice this month. “This ‘news’ had circulated here in Hyderabad about 10 days ago, too. At the time also, I had checked with Syed Kirmani [former India wicket-keeper whose daughter is married to Abid Ali’s son] and he had called up Abid and had confirmed to me that he was well. Today also, Kirmani said that Abid Ali was fine,” Man Singh, who was the team manager when India won the 1983 World Cup, told Outlook from Hyderabad.
On Saturday, the social media, particularly the numerous WhatsApp cricketing groups in India, spread the rumour of Abid Ali’s death, and people promptly reacted by profusely offering their condolences with ‘RIP’ messages and flowers etc. By the evening, the same people were saying “sorry” for the “wrong information”.
This is the third time Abid Ali has become the target of false news. First, it was in the mid-1990s when a prominent Indian news agency, United News of India, had put out a news item that the Hyderabadi had died, after Farokh Engineer, also an India Test wicket-keeper, had announced his ‘death’ on air. At the time, when this reporter had called up former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, a former teammate of Abid Ali, to verify the ‘news’, he had confirmed that it was wrong information. It was the news agency, the United News of India (UNI), that had put out the news first. After the confirmation that the news was wrong, The Asian Age newspaper quipped with this headlined on its front page – ‘UNI Kills Abid Ali’.
“When Abid came to Hyderabad after the first rumour of his ‘death’ had circulated around 1995, I told him that he was the second cricketer to read his obituary. Long time ago, there was an Australia cricketer about whom a similar rumour had circulated,” said Man Singh, also an author and collector of cricket memorabilia.