We have all been let down in life and by different things. At times, by our own people who are something else behind the back whilst being pleasant on the face. We have been deceived by tricksters and fraudsters; the scheming minds and those who harbour a self-vested interest even as they go on to forge what they call a ‘close bond’ with us. Cricket is no different.
On the pitch, you can be let down by a deceptive pace attack. You can be felled by a bouncer. Though, nothing can be more painful when the cause of the hurt is from within. When you are fighting a great inner turmoil, that can not only prove to be detrimental to yourself but pose a mortal risk at your very existence.
This brings us to examine a life that is fighting the great malady of our lifetime- Cancer.
To countless Indian fans and perhaps many around the world, why Yuvraj Singh was, is considered a hero is not because of his stellar cricketing achievements alone, the likes of which featured six consecutive sixes; rather it was the valiance and never-say-die attitude with which one of India’s great sons conquered the biggest fight of them all- lung cancer.
Well, life for Morten Kriek hasn’t always been easy, a man who formerly played for The Netherlands as a youth cricketer and was also battling challenges on the pitch in England for no fewer than two back to back seasons, where he played professional cricket.
Suffering from not one but two forms of Leukaemia, Morten Kriek, for whom sport has been life, is currently suffering from two-types of blood cancer: Hodgkin Lymphoma and Leukaemia.
In an age where many cannot stand their ground and find their wickets shattered at the mere thought of being struck by the disease, it’s astonishing and inspiring in equal measure how one man is waging a brave vigil agains two.
Growing up in a adoring sport-loving family with several offsprings in The Netherlands’ Nijmegen, near Malden, which happens to be a Roman city near the German border, sports have always had a substantial role in defining the life of the now 48-year-old.
Where most crumble against the pressure in finding one’s feet in one sport, it’s sensational that Morten Kriek played two and excelled in them both.
He shared, “We used to play Ice Hockey in the winters for Nijmegen and then cricket in those long summer nights for the revered RKCC union, a facilitator of the sport in Malden!”
Despite there being no clubs around Malden, Morten Kriek didn’t get disappointed and continued to follow the intrepid love of his life.
“Very few, he humbly confesses, could play the sport like we did,” never with a sign of arrogance.
But it wasn’t until his spell in England that cricket became a more serious, professional part of the man’s life who today needs every bit of support to defeat an evil incarnate that’s far more treacherous than any beamer directed at the batsman’s head.
He told, “It wasn’t until I moved to Haarlem in 1987 that I was able to take cricket a bit more seriously at Rood & Wit CC. Under the guidance of first Chris Harms and then Gary Hayes, both South Australian professional players, I made the Holland Under 15 squad with my low-slung action – I still claim to this day I was slinging it before anyone had ever heard of Lasith Malinga!”
The following summer, he developed more pace and clocked a fantastic 93mph, then charging with searing pace at the best batsmen.
The feat was actually recorded at the prestigious Lord’s fast bowling school.
There were more memorable miles to be clocked by a racy pacer. After having left cricket and having relocated to Ukraine for work-purposes, prior to which he would play only socially for his old club Rood & Wit, Morten Kriek was the driving force behind setting up cricket’s important footprint in a land desolated by Russian interference and where capitalisation was a more powerful word, not cricket.
It was Kriek who helped set up the Kiev Cricket League and met, during that time, post 1999, with the country’s Sports Minister to discuss a realistic opportunity to interact with the ICC for the country’s Associate membership.
Everything was smoothly going as per plan and the cricket-loving fast bowler was going smoothly when tragedy struck totally unannounced.
Shortly after he’d undergone a routine operation, for no apparent or explainable reason did Morten Kriek lose his brother. His older brother, Milko, passed away owing to total organ failure.
To a man who was into sports from the very beginning, in Milko, Morten Kriek had more than a brother; a friend, philosopher and guide, someone who had shaped his personality.
Though more bad news was on its way.
Two years later, November 2020, Morten was diagnosed with cancer.
What the doctors suggest having found no plausible reason behind the cause of his illness was the trauma stemming from such a personal loss.
But what was heartbreaking was that Morten suffered a cardiac arrest when during his third chemo session, his body reacted to the allergic reaction to immunotherapy.
Not good news.
Over the course of the last few months, the cancer has aggravated and the noted cricketer is batting on a different turf between mortality and the rabid dangers of uncertainty.
Morten Kriek, however, is no ordinary man; he didn’t sit back quietly and wasn’t ready to go all quiet about it. He set up Cricket fights Cancer initiative, which is best described in his own words:
If the cricket community can stand together, drawing a leaf from a team-based sport which thrives on unity and true purpose of a collective, then there would be many who will find magical wings to fly beyond the catch of cancer.
In an age where are so readily available on social media every moment of our lives and think not for a second before indulging on things- perhaps not needed and purely impulse-driven- like online shopping and trolling of celebrities, can we direct our energies toward a positive and meaningful cause.
I, Dev Tyagi, co-founder, Caught At Point along with Nitin Kumar, the other Co-founder at the site , request you in all sincerity to come to Mr. Morten Kriek’s aid and spend time doing as best as you can toward the promising Cricket Fights Cancer initiative.