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The life and times of Yoginder Singh Kansana

‘I LOVE CRICKET’, he wrote on the cover of a folder containing all his certificates that were awarded to him in recognition of his performances. But as is the case so often, not all love stories are destined to culminate in happy endings.

Yoginder Singh Kansana
Yoginder Singh Kansana at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata

Yoginder Singh Kansana, tragically, belonged to that tribe whose love for the sport went unrequited to such an extent, that the 28-year-old ended up taking his life on June 25.  Born on June 23, 1985, Kansana represented Tripura in the Ranji Trophy. He was so depressed on his birthday this year that he sent his sister-in-law a text message asking why no one was wishing him.

A couple of days later, he hanged himself using his mother’s sari, joining two other players who took their own lives in the past six years. Kansana, a wicketkeeper-batsman, was battling the same problems that most others endured before going taking the extreme step — he was struggling financially and fighting depression. Alcoholism had begun to take its toll and then there was the lingering despondency about not having succeeded as a cricketer.

Team India dreams
“We all helped him financially. Sometimes we sent him wicket-keeping gloves because he didn’t have the money to buy them. He dreamt of playing for his state and then finding a job. He couldn’t make it here, so he went to Tripura. He returned after some time and played at the district level. But his dreams of making it to the Ranji team were dashed.

This affected him a great deal and he was a changed man,” said Mohammad Arif, a close friend of Kansana, who played for Madhya Pradesh. “He used to say, bhaiya, you could not fulfill your dream, but one day I will play for India. He wanted to come back and play for MP. But he was an unwelcome guest here. Till the time he was playing cricket, he was enjoying every moment of life.

Yoginder Singh Kansana
‘I LOVE CRICKET’ written on the cover of a folder containing Yoginder Singh Kansana’s certificates

But I failed to understand what happened to him in the past few years,” said elder brother Gajayender Singh, a former U-19 cricketer.  “Whenever he asked for money, I used to send it to him. After he came back from Tripura with an NOC, he failed to find a place in the team here. Jaggu had seen his brother Gajayender suffer because of cricket.

Even Gajayenderbhai used to scold us and tell us to forget cricket,” said Mahinder, Kansana’s other brother and a cricket coach in Jabalpur.  “He started drinking like a mad man. He would drink in the morning, afternoon or any time of the day. He never discussed his problems. I am still in shock as to why he took his life,” added Arif.

Sad end
“I was told that he was depressed. Reports suggest he was hanging for about 26 hours and rats had bitten portions of his body,” said investigating officer Om Prakash from Kotwali Thana. It may be recalled that Vishal Sharma, who played for Jammu Kashmir, killed himself last year owing to alcoholism and a failed marriage. In 2007, Uttar Pradesh Ranji player Ram Babu Pal (35) committed suicide because of “poor mental health”.

In the same year, Subhash Dixit, 22, who was captain of the Under-15 World Cup team took his life by jumping from the sixth floor of a building in Kanpur. According to his friends and family, he was frustrated with the system, just like those players who could not look beyond cricket. 

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