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Hughes incident puts dark cloud on game of cricket

Hughes incident puts dark cloud on game of cricket


Tue Dec 02, 2014

Editor: More than a million cricketers and fans throughout the planet mourn the tragic death of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, who died two days after he was struck by a ball from a pace bowler.{{more}} Although Hughes was hearing a helmet, he was struck because it is said that the helmet is the older type which did not cover part of the neck where he was struck. It is said also that it is almost impossible to ensure that all of the lower head is protected against rising deliveries, especially extremely fast ones.

The unfortunate incident put a dark cloud on the game and West Indian cricketers were instructed to wear black arm bands during matches for at least a week and have moments of silence before the commencement of matches. I understand that similar respect was paid in all the cricketing nations the world over. Former West Indies captain, Brian Lara, the world record holder for most runs in test and first class matches, who was in Australia at the time participating in a golf tournament visited Phil at the hospital the day when he was struck.

Former Windies captain Sir Vivian Richards and Chris Gayle, who also served as captain and is now in the Windies squad in South Africa, also paid tribute to Hughes’ passing.

It is said that the young fast bowler Shaun Abbott, who delivered the fatal ball, was devastated and the agony on his face was visible seconds before, when he was pictured cradling his head. The 22-year-old speedster had to be comforted by team mates and some spectators. The incident occurred during a first class Sheffield match in Sydney Australia. Phil died two days before his 26th birthday. He was at 63 when he was struck and the officials recorded, instead of retired hurt, “63 not out for ever.” He had a magnificent career, scoring 26 first class centuries.

The incident sparked off discussion about the danger of the game and Australian cricket columnist Malcolm Knowx wrote “no body outside the changing room witnesses what happens to an average batsman’s body on an average day facing fast bowling, the spectator might forget what a cricket ball can do… Players know, and it is a shame that the machismo of eliite sport places a veil of secrecy over the ever-present dangers they face. When Peter Lever hit Ewen Chatfield on the temple in 1975 and brought him unconscious to the ground, the Engishman burst into tears.

Chatfield had swallowed his tongue, and it was only the quick thinking of English physiotherapist Bernard Thomas to clear his throat and give him a heart massage that saved Chatfield from becoming the first fatality on a test ground.

In the West Indies, star batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul was struck behind his head by fiery Australian paceman Brett Lee in Jamaica in 2008, when he was on 83. He continued to bat and scored a century.

Indian batsman Nari Contractor was struck by a rising delivery from speedster Charlie Griffith. In those days helmets were not worn, but the Indian opening batsman survived the blow, which forced him to be hospitalized for a few months, bringing an end to his cricketing career.

Condolence to Phil’s family. May his soul rest in peace.

Oscar Ramjeet