The global cricketing ‘family’ were united in their mourning and sense of loss after the news earlier today of the tragic passing away of Phil Hughes, the talented young Australian batsman. He was struck on the head by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales on Tuesday, and never regained consciousness. The 25-year old (who would have been 26 this coming Sunday), left hander who played in the 2013 Ashes series against England was a likeable and affable character as confirmed by the wealth of tributes that have been made since the news was broken of his death.
It brings the subject of safety in sport back into sharp focus, although it has been re-iterated by many directly involved in cricket that there are no imminent calls for bouncers to be outlawed, nor indeed for any changes to be made as a result of the incident to the rules of the game.
There will no doubt now be calls for further investigation into how to protect batsmen from potentially lethal blows to the head in future, but the evidence suggests that there has only ever been one recorded incident in cricket previously. Essentially it was a (thankfully) freak incident and the statistics suggest that more people have died from typhoid who played cricket than from being struck by the ball.
Tragedies such as this in sport, which in essence is not meant to place those participating in it in mortal danger, brings life into sharp focus and forces those who witness them first-hand to re-evaluate their lives and careers. Besides the obvious impact on the family of Hughes and how they will cope with the passing of their son, brother and friend, one should also spare a thought for the bowler who delivered the bouncer that took a life, Sean Abbott. At 22 years of age and only recently capped by the green and gold, he will have to live with that defining moment throughout the remainder of his career, and one hopes that he can now recuperate and get the necessary counselling and support to enable him at some point in the future to participate in the sport he clearly loves once again.
For a country that prides itself on its sporting prowess and holds up the sport of cricket as its national sport, the loss will hit them especially hard and one feels that they will be united in their grief and support of those involved. #CelebritiesPerhaps a fitting dedication and reminder of the gift that is life would be that uttered by another man who tragically lost his life this year, that of Robin Williams in the heartwarming film “Dead Poets’s Society”. We should all look to “Seize the Day”.