In one of the most senseless loss of life, 25-year old Phillip Hughes succumbed to injuries sustained, when he was struck by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales at the SCG on Tuesday. Phillip had missed an attempted hook and the ball hit him on the side of his neck below the helmet. As a result of that blow, the main vertebral artery got compressed by the ball and Hughes had a massive bleeding into his brain through the punctured artery. For a second or two, Hughes kept standing and then collapsed forward in a heap. The players around rushed for help but with the injury of such kind, there was little they could do. However, an NSW doctor and paramedical staff did their best to resuscitate Phillip to keep him alive and he was transported to the nearby St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. No time was lost in admitting Phillip for an emergency surgery. But the injury that Phillip suffered proved catastrophic. His CAT scan showed that the brain had plenty of accumulated subarachnoid blood that needed to be removed immediately to reduce the pressure. The surgeons did their best in trying to remove some of the skull around his brain and reduce the compression. After 80 minutes in the operation theater, Hughes was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit under induced coma. However, he couldn’t recover over the next 48 hours and died on Thursday afternoon.
Phillip Hughes had opened the innings with Mark Cosgrove for South Australia in their Sheffield Shield match against the star-studded New South Wales at the SCG on Tuesday. After losing his opening partner at 61, Hughes found a nice company in Callum Ferguson with whom he added another 61. Hughes was patient for most part and batted with responsibility in an attempt to take South Australia to a good total. After Ferguson left at 122, Tom Cooper joined Hughes as his partner for the third wicket. When the score reached 136 and Hughes had taken 161 balls for his 63 runs, Sean Abbot came up with a bouncer on the third ball of innings’ 49th over. As the left-handed Hughes prepared to hook the flying delivery, the ball missed his bat and struck him on the side of the neck. Though Hughes fell down and players ran for help, no would have imagined that the talented batsman had faced the last ball of his life. As per the doctors, who attended on Hughes at the hospital, it was a rare injury to the batsman’s neck resulting in hemorrhage by rupturing the vertebral artery. In medical history less than 100 cases of such accident have ever been reported. It was an utter misfortune for Hughes’ friends and family that a bouncer should take the cricketer’s life. Among the firsts, who ran to check on Hughes, was the NSW bowler Sean Abbott but it is impossible to imagine how Abbott would be feeling now. It was tragic that the career of the immensely talented Hughes had come to such an abrupt and sad end.
It was big loss for Australia and rest of the cricket world. Besides being a cricketer, Hughes was a wonderful human being, who made many friends because of his simple and easy going nature. Keeping vigil at the St Vincent’s Hospital were several players, coaches, friends and members of Hughes family. His mother and sister were present at SCG, when the tragedy took place. Australian captain Michael Clarke, who is Hughes’ close friend, literally spent the night sitting outside his room in the hospital. Also present were Brad Haddin, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Daniel Smith, Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich, Phil Jaques , Brett Lee, Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Peter Forrest, George Bailey and several others. Cricket Australia’s CEO James Sutherland and national coach Darren Lehmann were also present along with many well-wishers.
On November 30, 2014, Hughes would have turned 26. He first emerged as an international cricketer on the 2009 tour of South Africa, where at 20, he became the youngest man ever to score two centuries in a Test match. After making his debut at 18, Hughes was a prolific scorer for New South Wales and later for South Australia. In all he scored 26 first-class centuries and had been part of Australia’s recent test series against Pakistan in UAE, but didn’t play any tests. In the 26 tests that he played for Australia, Hughes recorded three centuries. Other than Australia and South Australia, Phillip Hughes also represented Adelaide Strikers and Mumbai Indians.
Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland expressed his grief and said that Hughes was an incredibly talented cricketer, whose best cricket was still ahead of him. Sutherland added that Phillip as a person would be missed most because of his classic simplicity, humbleness and hardworking approach in life. Sutherland also said that it would be an understatement to say that cricket had lost a rising star because that would be nothing compared to tragic loss of the Hughes’ family of his parents, brother and sister.
It must be emphasized that Abbott did nothing wrong. The bouncer is and has always been an integral part of cricket. For some time, the tragic event may bother Abbott, who may keep thinking of “if onlys” with thoughts like; “if only I had bowled a Yorker” or; “if only I had sent down a slower ball” and so on. It is human nature and Abbott deserves complete emotional support by those around him.