I don’t follow cricket very closely, but my older son does – and he loves playing. He told me yesterday that Phillip had got hit on the head and collapsed, and he spent most of the evening on internet, pouring over videos of the tragic bouncer to try to understand how this could have happened.
This morning, he was on a bus on his way to school when he found out that Phillip had lost his battle for life. He texted me with just one line, ‘The cricket player died’. I went on-line and saw the news; it was true – Phillips Hughes’ life was tragically cut short, leaving his family, friends and team mates in mourning and the cricketing world in a state of shock and disbelief.
I broke the news, as gently as I could, to my younger son and could see that he was struggling to comprehend what had happened. After a moment he asked, ‘So did he die doing what he loved?’ ‘Yes, he did,’ I said, and no more words could get out of my throat.
Yes, Phillip died doing what he loved, and perhaps this thought will help everyone in their grieving… But I just can’t get my head round it – a young man, a promising cricketing talent, gone in a flash because of a freak accident.
I can’t even begin to imagine what his family, friends and team mates must be going through – my thoughts and prayers are with them. No-one would ever imagine that stepping out on the cricket pitch that fateful day, Phillip would never walk off it again… Such a tragic loss.
And then, we must not forget Sean Abbott, the fast bowler, whose ball hit Phillip and who run up to him to help as soon as it appeared something was wrong. Sean also played the game he loved, and he was doing what he was supposed to do – trying to get the batsman out. He couldn’t have known his bouncer would result in a terrible accident and he must be in a very dark place right now. I don’t know whether he will be able to face another batsman again, but I am certain he will need all the support he can get to pull through this tragedy.
There is some discussion now about re-thinking the design of a cricket helmet. I guess, more of a ‘cage’ attached to the helmet would make it safer, but cricket is inherently a dangerous game and accidents do happen. I’m not sure even the safest of helmets would eliminate the risk entirely. Thankfully, serious accidents in cricket are very rare, but nevertheless, the risk remains.
The tragedy of Phillip Hughes is bound to send ripples across the world of cricket from grass-roots to the top international level. Those close to Phillip will need time to grieve and heal. Cricketing youngsters are likely to feel overwhelmed, shocked and maybe even scared by it all. Many parents may start wishing their children picked another sport. I know it’s silly, but I am one of such parents – my son is going for a week-long cricket training camp in the spring and I will probably not be able to sleep properly while he is away.