I simply had to write about the shocking and saddening news of Phil Hughes’ demise after being hit by a cricket ball while playing the game. It feels like a travesty to call it that – “playing a game”. One can not die while playing – can they? Not cricket, surely?! I do know there have been instances in the past, Raman Lamba, for example, famously died when hit in the head while fielding at forward short leg. That was a freak accident and somehow seems more comprehensible than to die after being hit while wearing a helmet and protective gear while batting.
I do not know Phil Hughes. I did not follow his career closely. My impression of his cricketing ability was that he was one of many openers that the Australian cricket team had been trying in the past couple of years, looking for the right combination. Now, I do know a little more about him. I know that he was from the country side in Australia, a capital fellow, by all accounts. It does not matter. Whatever the nature of the person, no one, absolutely no one deserves to die in such a horrendous manner.
I do not play cricket any more. When I did start playing with the leather cricket ball, I do not remember wearing a helmet while batting. Of course, we would not get hit! We were brought up on the bravado of Viv Richards – who needs a helmet when we can play the hook shot. Or maybe we were simply not aware of the risks involved. Now, Phil Hughes was wearing a helmet. In 2014. At the SCG. In a Sheffield Shield match – a first class competition. He was batting on 63. How can this happen?
At this time, I can not imagine it ever being thrilling again to watch fast bowlers bowl short, at the body of the batsmen. That innocence that I had earlier – the belief that the batsman ought to have the stomach for the fight. He ought to know how to play the short-pitched ball. Is it a skill any more? By all accounts, it was not a fearfully fast delivery that hit Phil, he was through his shot early. They say it is only chance that the ball hit an artery that burst and caused cerebral hemorrhage. Batsmen – try keeping that it mind when you face up to a fast bowler next time any where. Protect the key arteries – your life is at stake.
Cricket will not be the same for me. Mortal fear is never something that I would associate with this beautiful game. Not until now.