It’s not a story you expect to hear in this day and age. As cricket has evolved, so too has the protective gear batsmen wear. When players get hit, they almost always get up. If not immediately, usually a short while later.
Earlier in the year, South Africa’s Ryan McLaren suffered a concussion after being hit on the head during a Test against Australia. He was in pain, but got up. Two weeks ago, Pakistan’s Ahmed Shezad suffered a minor skull fracture after being hit on the helmet by Corey Anderson. The pain was evident, but he got up. Last week, Aussie batsman Ben Rorher was hit on the head by Chris Tremain. He fell to the ground, but he got up. They all got up. Phil Hughes was not so lucky.
After being hit on the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott, Hughes stumbled forward a few steps, put his hands on his knees and fell straight into the ground. His heart stopped. He had to be resuscitated on the pitch. He never got up again and died just a few days before his 26th birthday.
“Phillip took the blow at the side of the neck and as a result of that blow his vertebral artery, one of the main arteries leading to the brain, was compressed by the ball,” explained Dr. Peter Brukner, the Cricket Australia doctor. “That caused the artery to split and for bleeding to go up into the brain. He had a massive bleed into his brain. This is frequently fatal at the time.”
The news is chilling and disturbing. Hughes has had his career ups and downs, but he always bounced back. He broke records and stayed focused. He remained humble and always made time for everyone. He was set to replace Michael Clarke in the first Test against India next week.