A cricket umpire has died in the Israeli city of Ashdod after being hit by a ball, police say.

Hillel Oscar, 55, was taken to hospital on Saturday in the nearby town of Ashkelon in critical condition where he died of his injuries, police said. Oscar was also a former captain of Israel's national cricket team.

"We're simply in shock," said Naor Gudker, the head of Israel Cricket Association.

One of the players, who witnessed the incident, told the Nana10 website that the umpire, standing at the bowler's end, was struck by the ball after it ricocheted off the stumps from a shot that came straight back down the pitch.

Police said they were investigating his death.

"We know a ball was hit in his direction, he tried to escape it, he fell - what happened there is still being investigated," Gudker told the AFP news agency.

"The entire Israel Cricket Association and players bow their heads in his memory. He was a wonderful man, cricketer, and umpire," Gudker said.

The death came two days after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died in hospital after being struck by a ball during a domestic first-class match in Sydney.

Cricket is not a major sport in Israel but Ashdod is one of the main centres for the sport where a large number of Jewish immigrants from India live.

Source: Reuters