On November 25th, five years ago, the cricket world was shell shocked and faced its worst nightmare.
In a Sheffield Shield contest between South Australia and New South Wales in Sydney in 2014, Phillip Hughes opening the batting for the former team, suffered a life-ending blow as he was stuck on the unprotected back side of his head, just below his helmet and collapsed within moments. He was never ever stand up again.
The efforts from the doctors were in vain as the 25-year-old Australian passed away two days later on 27th, just three days shy of his 26th birthday.
Cricket was always a gentleman’s game and never ever had anyone thought a person would lose their life playing this sport. There were times in 1970s and 1980s when the dreadful quartet of the West Indian fast bowlers including the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcom Marshall and Michael Holding terrorised the batsmen.
However, in spite of not wearing helmets, cricket was never seen as a sport that would end up taking somebody’s life unlike Formula One or other forms of racing or for that matter even boxing, where there is always a risk of death when a person takes the field.
While cricketing fraternity wept after this incidence, unable to cope up with what they had witnessed, the impact of this tragic death had stayed with some for few months to follow.
Following the death of Hughes, the play was suspended on day two in the ongoing Test match that was being played between New Zealand and Pakistan at Sharjah and the Kiwis did not bowl a single short ball when the play was resumed on 28th November.
The Test series between the visiting Indians and Australia that begun a week later after this shocking incident was surrounded by an air of grief and restlessness. His number 64 ODI shirt was retired by Australia as a tribute to Hughes.
The Australia’s fast bowling spearhead Mitchell Johnson, who intimidated the English team during the home Ashes series of 2013-14 with his hostile and aggressive fast bowling, was one of the worst hit as a result of tragic death of Hughes.
Just as Sean Abbott, the man who bowled the delivery which killed Hughes, was shaken – Johnson appeared to be extremely moved by the events. He seemed to have lost the steam to intimidate the batsmen that was very much an integral part of his success at the international level.
The lanky pacer was never the same in 2015 and no wonder he retired within a year following the death of his former teammate.
After the death of Hughes, batsmen have started using helmets with a neck guard that provides them with additional protection on the bare portion below the helmet. We continue to strive to evolve in order to make the sport as safe as possible.