Cricket world salutes batsman who suffered fatal head injury during match at Sydney Cricket Ground
Report by Owen Gibson, The Guardian
Picture shows Phillip Hughes and his fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2010. Photograph Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Flags flew at half mast from Lord’s to the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Adelaide Oval’s famous old scoreboard read simply “Vale Phillip Hughes 1988-2014”.
Meanwhile, a stunned cricket community tried to come to terms with the death of the Australian batsman from injuries sustained when he was struck on the head by a bouncer earlier this week.
Hughes, 25, died from injuries suffered while batting for South Australia against New South Wales at the SCG on Tuesday, in an incident that prompted an outpouring of tributes to an effervescent talent and sympathy for Sean Abbott, who bowled the fateful ball.
Hughes, who was wearing a protective helmet, was 63 not out when he collapsed face first on to the pitch after being hit by the ball on the lower left side of his head as he attempted a pull shot.
As numb teammates expressed their shock over the freak accident – which doctors said was caused by an injury seen only once before on a cricket field – questions were also raised about the effectiveness of protective headgear and the nature of the modern game.
Hughes died after suffering a vertebral artery dissection, a tear to the artery attached to the brain that has similar symptoms to strangulation or a stroke.
An emotional Michael Clarke, the Australian Test captain who has been described as like a big brother to the batsman from New South Wales, read out a statement on behalf of the Hughes family after he lost a two-day fight for life.
“We are devastated by the loss of our much-loved son Phillip. Cricket was Phillip’s life and we as a family share that love of the game with him,” they said, before paying tribute to the medical staff at the hospital where Hughes had battled for life for two days.
Clarke said Hughes’ parents Virginia and Greg and siblings Megan and Jason were thankful for the support from the cricketing fraternity and beyond.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson said cricketers across the world had been rocked by the “devastating event” as legends of the game including Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Ian Botham paid tribute.
“Phillip Hughes died playing the sport that he loved amongst those who loved him,” said Nicholson. “His final shot typified his approach to the game – aggressive, positive and defiant.”
Tributes were posted on social media to a player who, it emerged in a tragic coda, was about to be handed a Test recall and named in the side to play India at the Gabba next week. “RIP you little champ, we are all going to miss you! Love, prayers to all the Hughes family xxxx,” tweeted Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who was among the players, family and friends who kept a bedside vigil for Hughes in Sydney.
“No no no no no. RIP Phillip Hughes. And stay strong Sean Abbott,” former Australian international Adam Gilchrist posted on Twitter.
International rivals also paid tribute to a popular opponent, who had played for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Phil Hughes’ family, friends and team-mates at this incredibly sad time,” said the England team. “Phil was admired and respected by all he played with and against, and will never be forgotten by the cricket community.”
While some in the game put the tragedy down to chance, others said it should prompt a fresh look at the sport’s willingness to embrace new technology, warning that aesthetic considerations had prevented more advanced helmet designs from taking off.
Former International Cricket Council chief Jagmohan Dalmiya urged the game’s administrators to work on upgrading safety standards.
“This is very, very sad. These injuries are part of cricket but precautions should be taken so that such incidents do not happen,” said Dalmiya, who was ICC president from 1997-2000. “I hope this never happens again on the cricket field.”
Life threatening injuries are relatively rare, despite the prevalence of fast bowlers able to send the ball down the wicket at upwards of 90 miles per hour and the tendency for modern batsman to try to play every ball rather than swaying out of the way or ducking.
But last year alone South African wicket keeper Darryn Randall died aged 32 after being struck on the side of the head during a domestic match and Zulfiqar Bhatti died after being struck on the chest while batting during a club game in Pakistan.
Helmet manufacturers said Hughes’s accident was unusual and nothing on the market now would have prevented it.
But they said advances in cricket helmet technology were being stymied by a lack of enforcement of international safety standards and the reluctance of elite-level players who prefer the game’s traditional aesthetics to adopt new styles.
“The ability of manufacturers to innovate is reliant on players embracing new technology and they are very, very traditional in cricket,” Brendan Denning, chief executive of Melbourne-based manufacturer Albion, told Reuters.
“At the moment, we make incremental changes while trying not to upset the traditionalists. Other sports, like horse racing, more readily accept that injury is an issue.”
But the game’s governing bodies said it was too soon to consider what changes, if any, to the game’s rules or equipment might follow Tuesday’s tragic events.
Questions were also asked about the amount of time it took for emergency services to reach the ground following the incident. It took two phone calls and 15 minutes for an ambulance to reach Hughes as he lay unconscious on the wicket.
Yet Australian team medic, Dr Peter Brukner, said the care of two specialists in the interim meant the delay would not have affected Hughes’ chances of survival.
Hughes was treated by NSW team doctor John Orchard and an intensive care specialist from Newcastle, Dr Tim Stanley, who was watching the Sheffield Shield match from the stands.
But the main focus remained on mourning a batsman who had seen his life cut short while playing the game he loved and supporting those left behind, including Abbott.
“The thought that a player in his prime should be killed playing our national game is shocking and sobering,” said Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. “We should also remember Sean Abbott who would be devastated at this tragic accident.”
Source - http//www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/nov/27/phillip-hughes-cricket-world-tributes