Sports can be dangerous, yet they have to be played

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By Francis Saldanha
Bellevision Media Network

02 Dec 2014: The harsh reality of life on this earth is that one day it will all turn to dust and no one can escape this truth.  However the word ‘cruel’ itself will have a new meaning now in a way not just a young cricketer but a human being as such has been snatched away from us.  The deep shock and utter disbelief of this cruel tragedy transcends sports, religions, nations, faiths and present English language has no words to truly express the heartfelt grief, deepest sorrow and that a feeling of emptiness that churning of stomach, that sheer numbness and despair at the helplessness of it all. A million questions arise why did it have to happen?  How can one get over this loss?




It is indeed a very sad day for all those who knew Australian cricketer Phillip Joel Hughes and those who didn’t.  It does not make any difference whether you knew him or not.  The mourning has been universal.  The fact that life can be taken away in such a freakish manner is a bit scary.  The game is not going to be the same from now on.  The young Australian Bowler Sean Anthony Abbott must have been devastated.  He didn’t deliver the ball to put someone out of their life. But his delivery did the unexpected nevertheless. No matter how much we discuss and dissect to find reasons, there isn’t a second innings this time around.  It is probably the saddest moment in cricket.



Phillip J.  Hughes played 26 Tests for Australia and scored three centuries, and he appeared a strong chance to win a recall for the upcoming first Test against India at the Gabba with Michael Clark expected to be ruled out due to injury.  P. J. Hughes first emerged as an International cricketer on the 2009 tour of South Africa, where at the age of 20 in Durban he became the youngest cricketer ever to score two centuries in a Test.


To most of us, cricket is more than a game.  And when we see such sad things happen on the field it hurts.  We play the sport day in and day out, and such things are more freakish than rare.  The only thing that might console people close to Phillip J. Hughes and the cricket lovers is that he passed away doing something he loves and is passionate about. Hearing the news brought tears to my eyes and I can imagine the flight of his team mates, friends and family. I hope the fellow cricketers come back stronger from this loss and special wishes to Sean Abbott.  He needs every shoulder and all the support. Hope he recovers well enough to play the game that Phillip Hughes was so passionate about.


The horrific blow to Phillip Hughes head has put the cricket world in a somber mood. It is in such terrible incidents that the danger of action sport is stressed the most.  The sympathetic response to the life and death struggle of one sportsman is perfectly understandable because the sporting world simply relegates the thoughts of danger to the hinterland of the mind even as the rollercoaster of the everyday world of sport operates in every field including contacts sport like rugby, gridiron football, soccer, ice hockey, field hockey and many more.  Modern medical practices, most of all in brain and limb reconstruction surgery, offer a reassuring feeling of security to sportsmen. The pain of sporting injury may be horrible, but at least it can be endured as opposed to having a whole career put at risk from injury as used to happen to sportsmen of preceding generations.  In days of yore, the loss of a kneecap in a hard tackle could mean the end of dreams for young men in contact sport.



Today there is a ray of hope, also to be seen in improved safety of sporting equipment.  Cricket balls are hard and they travel fast, at times very fast.  Impact can hurt. Batmen have lived with it for centuries aware that it is ultimately their skill that gets them out of the way of danger.  The skillful are adept at avoiding the threat of leather sphere travelling at 150 mph, although it is not as if the top order batsmen do not get hurt.  In recent times, even the most skillful of openers like Justin Langer have been astonished by the ball slipping through the grill of the helmet.


In today’s cricket, there are no heroic figures like West Indies Sir. Viv Richards who batted without a helmet throughout his career. His career may have begun in the pre-helmet era, but he grimaced upon it later to when he had a choice of using it.  Another West Indies great Brian Lara realized early on his chances were far better at the crease with a helmet on.



Our prayers go out to Phillip J. Hughes who we hope to see back on the cricket field.  It may take an age to recover from such trauma but it is not impossible as the brave Justin Langer demonstrated.  It will not be a tribute to his braveness but also send a message to the young that while sport can be dangerous, it is not necessarily to be feared.  The dangers do add an edge to the thrill of playing sport well.


Philip Hughes You will always be remembered as a gutsy competitor, a talented sportsman and a true gentleman, your cheeky grin, blistering cut shot and the optimistic Thumbs up gesture will remain ever in our hearts and memories.



Comments on this Article
Francis J. Saldanha, Mangalore / Bahrain Mon, December-8-2014, 11:57
As everyone wants to be able to switch their focus to the cricket waiting for the show (first Test) to begin in Adelaide tomorrow, many questions remain including how Australian players will mentally handle return to cricket action after the sad and untimely death of Phillip Hughes and how it will affect the use of bouncer and the response of players and fans alike for rising deliveries from the world\'s fastest and most fearsome Australian bowlers. Good luck India and Virat Kohli!
Manoj Kumar, Nellayadi Puttur Sun, December-7-2014, 7:12
The injury that killed Phillip Hughes is incredibly rare one. Cricket is a game of great technique and patience. As we all know very well that it is often dubbed the gentleman\'s sport, because of its pace. But over the years, the sport has changed a lot. For instance, from 5-day Test matches that became One Day games, we have now come to the Twenty-20 format. The sport is now faster and more aggressive. The sport however has never really been devoid of aggression, which is why accidents on cricket fields are not uncommon. While some of the players have recovered from the injuries, many have unfortunately succumbed to the pain. R.I.P. Phillip Hughes, we are going to miss you.
Herold James B., Mangaluru Sun, December-7-2014, 12:56
Injuries are a part of every sport and cricket is no different. While many of the injuries are self-inflicted, many happen in the hands of fellow /opponent player. But it is beyond any doubt that these are accidents that not only hurt the players but also scar the fellow players, whether it is a team-mate or an opponent. One can never be too careful, but at the same time, accidents cannot really be eliminated from sports.
Nijith Satheendran, Kerala / Bahrain Sat, December-6-2014, 12:13
Australian fast-bowling legend Brett Lee was in his prime when he steamed in to bowl to Michael Papps of New Zealand in a One Day International at Eden Park in 2005. The speed gun clocks every ball Lee bowls to Papps at over 150km/h. Papps doesn’t appear to see very well and turning his head at the last moment to collect the ball flushes on the side of his helmet. Papps appears shaken but unhurt. After few more deliveries once again a fierce Brett Lee bouncer strikes Papps on the head and this time nearer the front of his helmet. The batsman appears stunned but stays on his feet. When removes his helmet an enormous bruise can be seen on his forehead. The New Zealand opening batsman retired hurt and has not played an ODI since!
Francis J. Saldanha, Mangalore / Bahrain Sat, December-6-2014, 12:12
Phililp, the tragic death of Raman Lamba has been well documented. I do remember this incident which happened in Bangladesh while he was playing league cricket, when fielding at forward short-leg without a helmet on, cost an Indian International his life. This reminds me the other tragic figure of Indian cricket of the 1960\'s Nari Contractor. His cricket career was cruelly cut short when he was struck on the skull by a short delivery from Charlie Griffith of West Indies in Barbados in 1962. I read in newspaper columns that his life was in danger for some time and he needed several emergency operations to take him off the danger list. Even though despite a brave attempt to stage a comeback to test cricket, Nari Contractor never could quite make it. Over all the game of cricket is still remains a potentially dangerous sport, and while almost all batsmen now wear protective equipment, a few close in fielders prefer not to wear helmets arguing they have an adverse effect on balance and quick reactions. Then they would do well to remember the sad case of Raman Lamba. Thank you and Alphs for touching the sports subject and like other BV readers for your all your valuable opinions.
Philip Mudartha, Navi Mumbai Fri, December-5-2014, 6:49
The sad incident reminds me of our own Raman Lamba, who was felled in Dhaka as he fielded at close quarters without any protective equipment. Risk and Reward go together in competitive sports, more entertainment and less sports in the digital satellite TV era.
Alphonse Mendonsa, Pangla Thu, December-4-2014, 4:50
Its indeed a great tragedy that a fine batsman is no more. A good and loving tribute dear Francis sir. However, the game must go on. I am sure in future the players will be more cautious in the field. May his soul rest in peace.
Moh d Riasate, Bahrain Thu, December-4-2014, 2:56
It is very difficult to express this tragic event in words. The cricket world will remember Phillip and this incident for ages for his bravery and gentlemen ship. This will also add a great respect to the spirit of game, the golden game of cricket. I truly admire and respect for all those people who care to mourn the said demise of Phillip Hughes. Unfortunately Phillip Hughes death was the second in just over a year of a player who suffered injury at the crease. Darryn Randall, a South African player, was struck on the head and died in October of 2013.
Francis J. Saldanha, Mangalore / Bahrain Thu, December-4-2014, 2:02
I do agree with you dear Benedict Noronha. Cricket was a gentlemen\'s game for more than a century. We need to revive the status. Its time for cricket grasps the moment and ensures cricket players behave like real men and not schoolyard bullies.
I.H.Khan, Pakistan / Bahrain Thu, December-4-2014, 12:59
Cricket head gear manufacturers Masuri has developed a model that will provide extra protection near the area where Philip Hughes was struck, but Masuri Company has stopped well short of claiming its product could have saved player’s life saying that complete protection in that area is simply not possible. Hence this part of the player’s neck and head area those helmets cannot fully protect, while enabling batsmen to have full and proper movement while batting especially while playing a hook shot on a rising delivery.
C.Lobo, Mangalore / Bahrain Thu, December-4-2014, 12:18
While no sport is perfectly safe, the question is whether it can be made relatively safe and if the long term consequences of any sport are worth the risk. The injury that killed Phillip Hughes is incredibly rare- a blow to the neck at the base of the skull that caused his artery to split. But it is quite evident that it suggests the area remains exposed, despite improvements in safety equipment and cricket pitches leading to a reduction in head injuries.
Benedict Noronha, Udupi / India Thu, December-4-2014, 8:22
it was a sad news. The youngsters take things lightly and say do not take proper care or ignore rules.Any way, may his soul rest n peace. Let young cricketers take note of this tragic event and be careful. Bouncer is one tool in the hands of the Bowler and it has to be continued if the game is to be interesting.
Shanis E.S., Mumbai Wed, December-3-2014, 6:54
Whenever I recount that tragic day Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes was struck down, it brings tears to my eyes and a reminder of how quickly it could all come to a standstill, and how precious, tenuous and fragile human life is. P. Hughes death has definitely touched every cricketing nation and cricket lovers. The out pouring of grief and the tremendous support given by millions is a testament to this young cricketer. You will be always remembered and held close to our hearts.
A. Rebello, Udupi Wed, December-3-2014, 12:01
Very unfortunate for Australian cricket and for the entire cricket fraternity, wish that cricket does not become a dangerous sport that it claims more lives. All sports can be very dangerous it is heart breaking, somehow, we must move on, just remember their smiles and the joy that they brought to you. Let\'s hope the up-coming series against India is going to be a memorable one of tough cricket but played in the right spirit that symbolizes the genial spirit and pleasant unassuming character of Phillip Hughes
Eugene Dsouza, Moodubelle Wed, December-3-2014, 7:15
Thank you Francis for this fine tribute to Philip Hughes whose promising career was cut short by the freak accident on the field. You said rightly "while sport can be dangerous, it is not necessarily to be feared". However, it is necessary for the youngsters to follow the rules of the game. RIP Philip Hughes.
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