I just heard about half an hour ago that Australian cricketer Phil Hughes has died.
Now, this shouldn’t be any more tragic than any other public figure dying. Or anyone at all dying, for that matter. Soldiers die in wars every day. Women die from domestic violence every day. People die in car crashes. All these events are tragic but the death of a stranger has never effected me like the death of Phil Hughes has.
Phil Hughes scored a lot of runs in Shield cricket, mainly for NSW. He should have had the chance to score a lot more for Australia, in the past and in the future. He shouldn’t have been dropped the first time and he certainly shouldn’t have been dropped after he scored 80 odd in England while Agar stole the show at the other end.
Cricket was a major part of my life for a long time. I played a season of Under 10s, a season of Under 12s, then went to senior cricket and missed one season in the next 25 or 26 years. That is a large part of my life. The current season is the second since I retired. It is still a game that I love. I think it (especially the long form– test matches and first class) is the greatest game there is. (You can read other posts about cricket here and here).
For most of my cricketing career I didn’t use a helmet, though I did start to a bit as I got older.
I was hit on the head a couple of times while batting, but my main method of batting was backing away and cutting just about anything from middle stump to as far outside off as I could reach. It wasn’t out of any text book but it worked. I scored a couple of 80s and a dozen or so 50s using this method. Phil Hughes had a method much the same, though it worked quite a bit better for him than it did for me. Maybe that was why I liked watching him bat so much.
I also did quite a bit of close in fielding over the years, again, without a helmet most times. That is probably even more dangerous. At the levels of cricket I was playing the batsmen often didn’t know where the ball was going to go– how was the fielder supposed to know?
But that was cricket. You knew there was a risks but… seriously? This? For a young guy just playing a game that he loved. A guy with so much ahead of him. Everything ahead of him.
Cricket is a very social game. You spend half the game sitting on the side lines chatting (well, I did– I wasn’t a very good batsman, remember) and the other half giving your team mates shit on the field. You get to know a lot about your team mates.
I didn’t know Phil Hughes– I watched him play on TV but never in person– and I’m devastated, so I can’t imagine how his friends and family feel. I can’t imagine how the guys he played with feel.
One thing we have to do is think of Sean Abbott. And help Sean Abbott. We can start by making sure we don’t refer to the “vicious bouncer” or the “brutal ball”. Because it wasn’t those things. It was a bouncer like hundreds of others that are bowled around the country all the time. They are bowled– and hit for four, and blocked, and ducked and taken on the body– every day. All over the world. This one just went wrong in every way it possibly could.
Apparently everyone liked Phil Hughes. He was just a quiet county guy getting paid to do what he loved. He died doing what he loved, but who cares about that, really. In the end, he just died. Way too soon.
RIP Phil Hughes.