Cricketer killed by bouncer


The cricket world was stunned by the news that a top Australian cricketer Phil Hughes was killed after being hit at the base of the skull by a ball. Serious head injuries had been more common in the past but were greatly reduced ever since batsmen started wearing protective gear like hard helmets with face masks and extensive padding over the body, though they do still happen.

The ball that killed Hughes was a ‘bouncer’. In cricket, a fast bowler on occasion will ‘pitch short’, i.e., make it hit the ground about half way down the pitch. This causes the ball to bounce head high or greater and is done to surprise and unsettle the batsman and cause him to mishit the ball and thus get out.

When I think of head injuries in cricket, the near-fatal one to Indian Test cricketer and captain Nari Contractor back in 1962 in the one that first comes to mind. He made a courageous comeback two years later but never made it on to the Test side again but is still alive and active at age 80. He played on the same Indian Test side as Farokh Engineer, making for the highly unlikely and amusing combination of Engineer and Contractor.

There was time back in the 1930s during the infamous ‘bodyline’ tour of Australia when the English team adopted this practice as a matter of policy against Australia and had their fast bowlers such as Harold Larwood deliberately bowl short so that the ball was consistently arriving at high speed around the batsmen’s head and upper body. This was before they wore any protective gear and caused a great amount of bruising and injury though none career-ending. As a result, new rules were adopted limiting the number of bouncers that could be bowled per over but major injuries still occurred. With the adoption of protective gear, injuries became much rarer.

This latest death may prompt an investigation to see how helmets can be improved to provide greater protection. There may also be calls for further limitations on the use of the bouncer or even its elimination altogether.

Here is video of what happened to Hughes.

Comments

  1. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    the English team… had their fast bowlers such as Harold Larwood deliberately bowl short so that the ball was consistently arriving at high speed around the batsmen’s head and upper body. …new rules were adopted limiting the number of bouncers that could be bowled per over but major injuries still occurred. With the adoption of protective gear, injuries became much rarer.

    that wasn’t the case with the Bodyline tour, in fact. The policy was known as “leg theory”. The bowler bowled at the batsman’s leg stump with as many as seven close fielders close in on the leg side, which meant mishit hooks or defensive shots were usually caught. The laws of cricket were changed to restrict the number of close-in legside fielders. The restriction on the number of bouncers came later, after the West Indies adopted a system of using only very fast bowlers bowling many bouncers in the 1970s.
    Incidentally, the most important death in cricket, historically speaking, was that of Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1751. As a result in 1760 his eldest son became King George III…

  2. sundoga says

    Living in Australia, this has been all over our news. The latest information is that it was literally a freak accident – the ball crushed and split one of the major blood vessels in the neck, creating a bleed the surgeons couldn’t properly fix. They put him into an induced coma, hoping that the reduced blood flow would allow the vessel to heal, but he never woke up.
    According to one of the surgeons, he’s seen only one similar case in thirty years of working in the field. It doesn’t look like helmet redesign will be a priority – no modern helmet would have helped with this injury.

  3. says

    A second accident has killed another person in cricket, this time a referee. The accident is very similar to the one that killed Hughes.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30260842

    Israeli cricket umpire killed by ball

    An umpire at a cricket match in the Israeli city of Ashdod has died after being hit by a ball.

    A batsman’s shot struck Hillel Oscar in the neck, possibly after a ricochet from the stumps at his end of the pitch.

    I didn’t know they played cricket in Israel.

  4. Mano Singham says

    The accident that killed Hughes is considered a freak one, so it is surprising to have a similar tragedy so soon after.

    I too have been surprised by the number of countries that play cricket. It is usually started by ex-patriates from traditional cricket playing countries that then attract the locals.

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