In the wake of Phillip Hughes' death due to a bouncer on Thursday, safety concerns over the wellbeing of cricketers while out in the middle are being questioned. The 25-year-old Australian died in spite of wearing a helmet, after being hit on the neck by a Sean Abbott bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and South Australia. As such, queries about players' safety being raised are obvious. However, while the extent of the tragedy is enormous, it must be remembered that this is a once in a thousand kind of incident. The doctor treating Hughes has also confirmed that the batsman's death occurred due to a freakish injury.
One of the theories floating around is that Hughes was wearing a 2013 helmet, and had he worn a newer helmet, the injury might not have been as serious. While that might have been the case, there is no guarantee that Hughes' life could have been saved. As the doctor mentioned, Hughes' death occurred due to a freakish incident. In such a scenario, the batsman could have died even with a new helmet, for it was just the nature of the injury. So people must be careful before terming cricket as a dangerous game just as yet in spite of what transpired on the field at Sydney. At the same time, it is important that safety equipments are reviewed as far as the game is concerned.
Although player deaths on the field are very rare, Hughes' death can be seen as a wake up call if needed. Remember, he was wearing a helmet, unlike Raman Lamba, who died while fielding at short-leg, minus a helmet. So the question of whether his life could have been saved had he worn a helmet doesn't arise in Hughes' case. Anyways, his death falls in the rarest of rare cases. Still, it gives a chance for the equipment makers to review how they can make the game even more safer for the players so that such incidents do not occur in the future. There should be no sense of panic though for it has been confirmed that this was indeed an extremely unique case of a player dying due to a neck injury.
Along with manufacturers, the players also must taken steps to ensure their own safety. In Hughes' case, it can be stated in hindsight that he should have worn the latest equipment. It wouldn't have guaranteed his safety, but at least it could have been concluded that Hughes made utmost effort to ensure his safety out in the middle. Hughes' death must be taken as a lesson by youngsters who, otherwise, do not pay too much heed to safety. The best tribute they can pay is Hughes is ensuring they take maximum care to wear all the latest equipment available to safeguard themselves, and not act lethargically in the matter.
Care must also be taken to ensure that Sean Abbott whose delivery unfortunately felled Hughes is not targeted by the public. Emotions will run high among fans, but they must understand that it happened in the middle of a cricket match, and no one actually bowls a bouncer with the intention of hurting the batsman. On the contrary, Abbott must be given every support he needs at the moment, for he will be the most distraught of all players. The others involved in the game might get over the tragedy with time, but for Abbott the recovery path could be longer. This is why the youngster must be given proper counselling to try and bring him out of the tragedy as soon as possible.
--By A Cricket Analyst