Prayers for Aussie cricket batsman Phil Hughes after horror injury
Cricket world in shock after Aussie batsman sustains horror injury
The world of cricket was in a state of shock yesterday as the Australian batsman Phil Hughes lay critically ill in hospital.
He had to undergo emergency surgery after being struck by a horrendous blow on the head while playing a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He was placed in an induced coma following an operation to relieve pressure on his brain. The outcome is unlikely to be known for another day or so but the gravity of the 25-year-old's condition and the perils faced by batsmen from a ball being propelled at speeds of around 90mph, even when wearing a helmet, were in no doubt.
In Colombo, where England and Sri Lanka are preparing for a one-day series, there was a deep sense of concern and distress for a fellow player - and one who happens to be highly popular.
That sombre mood was shared by cricketers everywhere, who were starkly reminded of the dangers inherent in the game.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, said: "The whole team have been in shock all day. All our thoughts and prayers are with Philip.
"It's a really saddening incident and fingers crossed he can show the fight he has throughout his whole career and pull through."
Hughes was on 63 not out playing for South Australia against his former side New South Wales on the first day of a Sheffield Shield match. He was making a solid case to be recalled to the Australia side for the first Test of the winter against India next week.
Hughes received several short balls from the fast bowler Sean Abbott which he ducked or backed away from. Faced with another bouncer, he went for a hook and missed.
Helmet manufacturer Masuri said in a statement that Hughes was wearing its 'Original Test model' when the incident occurred, but that has now been superseded by the 'Vision Series' which has a new helmet and grille profile.
There can be no confirmation as to whether the incident could have been avoided regardless of what Hughes was wearing, but Masuri says it is constantly looking to make improvements.
The statement said: "The thoughts of everyone at Masuri are with Phil Hughes and his family.
"From the footage and pictures currently available to Masuri, it appears that Phil Hughes was struck by the ball to the rear of the grille and below the back of the shell, missing his Masuri Original Test model helmet.
"This is a vulnerable area of the head and neck that helmets cannot fully protect, while enabling batsmen to have full and proper movement."
Former Yorkshire batsman Chris Taylor, who now runs leading retailer All Rounder Cricket in Leeds, is aware of how much development work is being done.
"I know cricket manufacturers and helmet manufacturers are working all the time to improve the safety of helmets," said Taylor.
Simply extending the helmet so that it covers the neck is impractical, Taylor believes.
"Once the helmet starts trying to cover the neck, it's going to restrict your movement as a batsman," he added.
"You need to be able to move quickly so if it's restricting your head and your neck, we could get to the stage where you wear full body armour because at the end of the day you can get a blow on your chest that can cause problems.
"My understanding is it's hit him at the worst possible place and it is extremely unlucky."