Safety in focus, one year after Hughes tragedy


On the first anniversary of the tragic death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, questions are being asked whether cricket administrators have done “everything humanly possible” to ensure player safety.

Hughes, who played 26 Tests, died from bleeding on the brain on November 27 last year after being hit on the base of the skull by a rising ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a domestic match.

His death — a freak accident — stunned Australia and the world cricket community, sparking an outpouring of grief.

While Cricket Australia immediately boosted the medical presence at grounds and now requires all players to wear a helmet that meets certain safety standards, Hughes’ long-time coach and mentor Neil D’Costa said he was still not convinced it was enough.

“Safety is our absolute top priority and I’m not sure we’re doing everything humanly possible to honour Phillip’s memory,” he told Thursday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

“You can erect plaques, and that’s all nice, but when it’s said and done, are we doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again to someone’s child?

“That’s the question that needs to be answered. It might be being done, but there’s a lot of us who are not sure if it is.”

Former Australian opener Chris Rogers, who retired following the recent Ashes series after experiencing ongoing symptoms of concussion, said the clip-on neck guard should be made mandatory in all helmet designs.

“The introduction of the neck guard, I think that has been quite big so I do think it should be made compulsory,” he told the newspaper.

“A lot of guys might not feel comfortable wearing it initially, but it’s for the safety of everyone. The laws could be tougher and more stringent.”

– Black armbands -But former Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin fells sufficient changes to safety have been made since Hughes’ death.

“I think Cricket Australia have gone over and beyond to do everything they possibly can in this space so something like this freak accident doesn’t happen again,” Haddin, who was behind the stumps when Hughes was struck, told Sky Sports Radio.

The historic day-night third Test against New Zealand starts Friday in Adelaide exactly one year since Hughes died.

His family have asked for a low-key anniversary and he will be honoured simply by players from both sides wearing black armbands, while during the first adjournment a tribute package will be screened at 4:08pm — referring to Hughes’ Test cap number.

“It’s going to be a really tough day and I think the guys playing are going to do it tough,” former Australian captain Michael Clarke, a close friend of Hughes who was a pallbearer at his funeral, told reporters.

“I think it’s really important that we continue to support the Hughes family and show our respect.”

Hughes’ death is subject of a New South Wales coronial inquiry, and a separate Cricket Australia review into the causes and circumstances. Both are yet to release findings.

Australian team doctor Peter Brukner said in the wake of the accident that Hughes died from an injury to the neck that caused a haemorrhage in the brain, adding that it was “incredibly rare”.