Thursday, 27 November 2014
The injury he sustained in the game between South Australia and New South Wales turned out to be a million, maybe billion to one freak accident, albeit one that ended with the worst of results.
I never met him, but I enjoyed watching him bat and his best years probably lay ahead of him. At 25, like most people in a profession that they love, he had the world at his feet.
There have been the expected calls to improve helmets, ban bouncers or change the ball, understandable but knee-jerk reactions to the accident, but it is important to keep a sense of perspective, in this as in other things.
No helmet would have protected the player from the blow, the ball hitting him on the neck and compressing his vertebral artery. Any modification to the current style to include a neck guard would probably make the helmet excessively heavy and/or hot. Designers will perhaps look at options, but in the long history of the game there is only one previously recorded death in this manner.
It is a hard game, played by tough people. The ball is hard and hurts when it hits you, but it has always been so. As I said to my family this morning, until around forty years ago, there was no such thing as a helmet for cricket. People got hit, people got hurt. Few, thankfully, died.
Phillip Hughes was a fine cricketer and apparently an unassuming man. Keep him and his family in your thoughts, but as you do so, spare a thought for Sean Abbott, at 22 a rising Australian pace bowler. Having bowled the ball that hit Hughes, he will be all over the place right now, but he cannot blame himself.
He was simply doing his job. It was another ball in another game and while he will need time to come to terms with the tragedy, he should remember that. He was trying to get a wicket for his side, nothing more, nothing less.
Rest in peace, Phillip Hughes. As a cricketer and a man you will be missed.