As shocking and saddening as it can be, Phillip Hughes a little over 48 hours ago was a serious candidate for making it into Australia’s squad for the first Test match against India, which is scheduled to start next Thursday at the Gabba. In fact, November 30th is the birth date of Phillip Hughes, who—having born on November 30th, 1988—would have completed 26 years of age.
Batting on 63 in a Sheffield Shield match for South Australia against his old state team, New South Wales, on Tuesday, the 25-year-old southpaw attempting to hook a short ball was hit on the left rear side of his head by a vicious bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott. The left-hander stood his ground for a few seconds after getting hit, but the viciousness of the bouncer had an impact on Hughes who then came crashing down, face first, to the ground.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital where, after performing the early scans, he underwent a head surgery which unfortunately failed to save him from death. The left-hand batsman, who still holds the record for the youngest batsman (20 years, 98 days) to score two hundreds in a Test match, against South Africa, passed away earlier today.
The multi-million dollar question is, does the modern day cricket gear, a helmet in Phillip Hughes’ case, serves the purpose of protecting cricketers from getting injured?
Cricketers, at a very young age, even when they are confronted with gentle throw-downs during practice sessions, do wear their leg guards, abdomen guard, arm guards, gloves, and helmet, too. But, even when you’re playing cricket at school and university levels, your protective gears offer very little to nothing in terms of protection. Be it a batsman or a bowler, it does hurt, and many times causes a serious injury, when you get hit by a cricket ball that is hard and ruthless.
Getting hit, blatantly put, is part and parcel of a cricketer’s life. But it is only in Hughes’s case, and maybe a handful of few other cricketers, that a cricket ball robbed them of their lives and ambitions. Every cricketer wears an abdomen guard too, but when a cricket ball delivered at serious pace strikes you, it hurts rather terribly.
Will you go about designing a new abdomen guard, to counter not getting hit in that area?
I very much doubt it; it’s an occupational hazard and, as a cricketer, you have to take it in your stride. A helmet, trust me, is the same as an abdomen guard. It is built to protect you, but it would be ridiculous to expect it to not hurt or injure you when a cricket ball, bowled at high speed, misbehaves and strikes you ruthlessly.
People out there can question the modern day technology and the plethora of resources available to design the best possible protective equipment. The sad truth, however, is that cricket is largely about power, and very little, if at all anything, in terms of caressing and soft-striking and delivering. It is in times like this, that we get to acknowledge the detriment a cricket ball, too, can cause. Rest of the time, we are delighted to watch it sail many-a-meter in the air, cheer on the batsman who strikes it, and scoff at the bowler who delivered the ball.
Bottom Line: Cricket, or any other sport for that matter, need not be a matter of life and death. But in Phillip Hughes’ case — as saddening and frightening it is to know about such a devastation — the Gentleman’s game brings us all closer to life, albeit in aberrational circumstances.
You can wear every protective gear to shield yourself against the malicious 156-gram sphere (which is nothing but the cricket ball), but I am very much skeptical of it not hurting you. It is very unfortunate that, at the onset of a great cricket season in Australia where the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is slated to be held, such a disconcerting incident is meant to happen. But I hope that this is one exceptional case and the game can delight, and not sadden us.
Rest in Peace Phillip Hughes!