Royal Brussels Cricket Club pays tribute to late “cricketing hero” Farrukh Malik
The Royal Brussels Cricket Club welcomed Belgium’s former foreign minister Sophie Wilmès and her husband Chris Stone to a recent special memorial match in honour of much-missed member Farrukh Malik.
The head coach’s sudden death at the age of 59 in December 2021, sparked an outpouring of heartfelt tributes for the popular all-rounder at the club based in Ohain.
Members of RBCC were keen to mark a special day on the cricketing calendar this season, organising a friendly match as a fitting tribute to Malik. Following his retirement as player, he had continued his involvement in the club as head coach of the youth teams.
At the memorial match, Stone and Wilmès chatted and reminisced with club members and said it was an honour to be present. Stone was a highly regarded player at RBCC for many years before retiring from the game. He’s also a former Australian rules football player.
Wilmès, announced in April she was temporarily stepping down from her role as foreign minister to care for her husband Chris after he was diagnosed with cancer. However, illness did not deter him from paying tribute to Malik. The couple said it was important for them to have been there on the day for their friend, who many described as “a cricketing hero”.
Born in Pakistan, Malik settled in Belgium as an 18-year-old with little spoken English, but soon made a huge impression after joining RBCC. He’s still the only player to achieve the double of scoring over 1,000 runs and taking 50 wickets in one season.
Malik (pictured above coaching), who also had a role as head caterer of the club, told RBCC’s magazine only last year: “It means the world to me to be able to give something back to the club as coach, especially coaching the youngsters. I am particularly proud to improve the skills of the kids as they are the next generation, which will take the club on into the future.”
Speaking at the memorial event, which included many current and former players, parent and club officer Mark Weinel said: “We owe Farrukh so much for his dedication to coaching our children and sharing his knowledge and experience. He will be sorely missed.”
Former chairman Nick Compton led the tributes to Malik: “He had one of the best cricketing brains I had ever met. I will miss his huge welcoming smile, his delicious food but most of all his friendship.”
RBCC’s current chairman Chris Hutchins announced that as a lasting legacy, RBCC would be launching the Farrukh Malik Academy, an initiative targeted at nurturing youth talent. A fundraising campaign aims to raise enough money to provide high quality coaching, including brand new practice nets (Sarah Ashall pictured above).
Malik is survived by his wife Hummera, daughter Alishba and sons Anas and Rayann.