“Our dead is never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” – George Eliot.
As the sun rose to usher in another beautiful day this morning, it also brought in news that has been shocking and saddening for many of us. The 25-year-old Australian cricketer, Phillip Hughes’s sudden demise has left the entire world stunned. For his ardent fans, friends and family members, dawn seems to make no haste, as his premature death has made the sun from their lives go down, never to rise again.
Batting at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales, Hughes suffered a catastrophic injury on his head. As the South Wales pace bowler, Abbott, delivered his short-pitched bouncer, the ball hit Hughes head, a blow that has been compared to the damage suffered by victims of a car crash. He was immediately taken to a hospital for an emergency surgery and was subjected to induced coma, to relieve him from his distress. However, after having battled with his ordeal for two long days, this remarkable batsman, who played 26 test matches and 25 one-day international matches, succumbed to his injury. As per the Aussie team doctor, Peter Bruckner, he “never regained consciousness” since the unfortunate accident that occurred on Tuesday.
A dark day for all the cricketers and the fans, Hughes’ tragic end has brought a few basic safety measures into question. As Virginia Woolf puts it, “Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.” More often than not, cricket is associated with being a relatively safe game. The risks involved in tackling balls and hitting runs that result in a ringing applause from the excited spectators are comparatively lesser than some games. When a batsman dons his batting gear to score as many runs as possible he seldom realizes the perils involved. These courageous gentlemen tend to ignore the fact that, they are, in fact, standing face-to-face with a hard ball. A ball that weighs between 155.9g and 163g, which is delivered at the mighty speed of more than 145km per hour by the strenuous bowlers. The impending question that knocks at the doors is about the quality of the helmets worn by these batsmen facing such a storm.
Hughes was hit by such a ball that damaged the back of his head, an area left exposed by the helmet he was wearing. The head of cricket biomechanics research at the University of Sydney, Rene Ferdinands, has commented on the incident that has left the safety of the cricketers in jeopardy. According to him, “It is possible to offer protection that extends beyond the area covered by the helmet.” The company which manufactured Hughes’ helmet, Masuri, has admitted that the batsman “was not wearing the latest model which offers extra protection.” Many cricketers have confessed to the fact that they have been wearing that same helmet since time immemorial, without sparing a thought about its quality and model. However, as they say “a stitch in time saves nine,” this upsetting news of a 25-year-old batsman’s sad departure from this mortal world has exposed the dangers lurking around the game of cricket. As Franklin Benjamin says, “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75,” Phil Hughes, will certainly remain an immortal name among all the cricket fans.
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