Sydney - On the first anniversary of the
tragic death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, questions are being asked
about safety - and the new pink ball being used at this week's historic
Hughes, who played 26 Tests, died from
bleeding on the brain on November 27 last year after being hit on the base of
the skull by a rising ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a domestic
His death - a freak accident - stunned
Australia and the world cricket community, sparking an outpouring of grief.
While Cricket Australia immediately boosted
the medical presence at grounds and now requires all players to wear a helmet
that meets certain safety standards, Hughes' long-time coach and mentor Neil
D'Costa said he was still not convinced it was enough.
"Safety is our absolute top priority
and I'm not sure we're doing everything humanly possible to honour Phillip's
memory," he told Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald.
"You can erect plaques, and that's all
nice, but when it's said and done, are we doing everything we can to make sure
it doesn't happen again to someone's child?"
The anniversary of Hughes' death on Friday
coincides with the start of the first day-night Test between Australia and New
Zealand in Adelaide - featuring a new pink ball, which can generate extra swing
D'Costa warned the situation could pose
safety problems, especially with bowlers like Mitchell Starc, who clocked the
fastest ball in Test history during the second Test in Perth.
"If a team would forego runs to
declare and take that condition (extra swing at night) and see that as an
advantage to win the game, you have to think it's a bit extreme," D'Costa
"They wouldn't want to see someone get
hit with that pink ball at dusk on international television. They're facing the
fastest bowler in the world now - it should mean something."
Former Australian opener Chris Rogers, who
retired following the recent Ashes series after experiencing on-going symptoms
of concussion, said the clip-on neck guard should be made mandatory in all
helmet designs to counter the risk.
"The introduction of the neck guard, I
think that has been quite big so I do think it should be made compulsory,"
he told the newspaper.
"A lot of guys might not feel
comfortable wearing it initially, but it's for the safety of everyone. The laws
could be tougher and more stringent."
However, former Test wicketkeeper Brad
Haddin, who was behind the stumps when Hughes was struck, said sufficient
changes to safety have been made since the accident.
"I think Cricket Australia have gone
over and beyond to do everything they possibly can in this space so something
like this freak accident doesn't happen again," Haddin told Sky Sports
Hughes' family have asked for a low-key
anniversary. He will be honoured in Adelaide simply by players from both sides
wearing black armbands, while during the first adjournment a tribute package
will be screened at 16:08 - referring to his Test cap number.
"It's going to be a really tough day
and I think the guys playing are going to do it tough," former Australian
captain Michael Clarke, a close friend of Hughes who was a pallbearer at his
funeral, told reporters.
Current captain Steve Smith said his team would
play with a smile on their face.
"I think for us now a year on we still
have Hughesy in the back of minds every time we walk out on the field," he
said. "We are going to do our best to play with a smile on our face and
hopefully play well for Hughesy."
Hughes' death is the subject of a New South
Wales coronial inquiry, and a separate Cricket Australia review into the causes
and circumstances. Both are yet to release findings.
Australian team doctor Peter Brukner said
in the wake of the accident that Hughes died from an injury to the neck that
caused a haemorrhage in the brain, adding that it was "incredibly