Cape Town - Phil Hughes, a talented Australian batsman who had his
best years ahead of him, has lost his life following one of most tragic sport-related
deaths I can remember. A bouncer coming in at 90 miles per hour struck him just
under the bottom edge of his helmet, impacting a particularly vulnerable area
of the neck which instantly induced critical and ultimately fatal trauma.
Some of the reaction has seen quite a high degree of
anger shown towards the equipment that was supposed to protect him. While I
understand people’s need to search for a scapegoat in the wake of such an
incident, in this case I would suggest people’s ire could be better directed
Cricket equipment and the protection it provides is of a
higher standard now than it has ever been. For centuries, the game was played
without helmets. This was the very embodiment of the term “freak accident”. From
the thousands of first class matches played around the world since 1870, only
five people have died from a similar injury whilst playing cricket. The chances
of it happening again are infinitesimal.
Spare a thought for young Sean Abbott, who has killed a
fellow human being but has done absolutely nothing that can be construed as
malicious, reckless or wrong. He bowled a bouncer (a vital component of the
fast bowler’s repertoire and a perfectly legal delivery if executed correctly),
at a very high but not unfathomable speed. I can’t begin to imagine how
distraught he must be feeling, my sincere hope is that he can work through this
and make the most of a promising career.
As a keen follower of the gentleman’s game for many
years, it leaves me feeling somewhat nauseous knowing this could take place in
a cricket match. Hughes’ death has saddened me on a personal level to some
extent; it is the one I regret more so than that of any
other high profile figure (sporting or otherwise) to take place in my lifetime.
Rest in Peace Hughesy