Phillip Hughes is battling for life in an Australian hospital after being hit by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game and former West Indies cricketer Brian Lara said the accident showed why cricket has always been a dangerous sport.
Lara, who amassed 11953 runs in 131 Tests, himself was at the receiving end of nasty short-pitched deliveries from the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Glenn Mc Grath but the stylish left-handed batsman said the “element of risk” will always persist in cricket. (Hughes Still Has Promises to Keep for Australia)
“It’s very unfortunate, batsmen face all sorts of dangers, we can just pray for him,” he told reporters in Australia. “I know all of Australia and all of the cricketing world are praying he comes back to play and to full health. I think it’s a sport and you are always going to have that element of risk. This is an unfortunate and rare situation.” (Hughes Still Critical, Battles for Life)
Lara was the scourge of most bowlers around the world but the 45-year-old Trinidadian revealed he would be nervous ahead of a match and hope for the best before taking on some of the dangerous pacers in world cricket.
“I felt safe playing but there was that element of risk, I used to say a little prayer in the morning and just hope for the best.” (Kohli Urges Hughes to Fight it Out)
Short-pitched deliveries, undoubtedly effective strategically, have also turned out to be near- fatal in the past. Several talented batsmen, hit and bruised by lethal bouncers had to bid the game farewell prematurely.
The rules were modified over the years and the authorities decided to let bowlers deliver only two bouncers an over – much later, bowlers were allowed one bouncer an over in ODIs. (‘Hughes Was Wearing Older Model Helmet’)
However, despite the recent Hughes tragedy, Lara does not see the short delivery being taken out of the equation completely. “I think they’ve done their best over the years to curb it and manage it as best as possible,” he said.
“But it’s part of a fast bowler’s armoury and it’s very hard to take that totally away from them. There are some batsmen who feed on that sort of attack and I don’t really believe it’s anything that should effect fast bowlers and the rules governing that.”
Concerns are growing for 25-year-old Hughes, who has been in induced coma for over 24 hours. But Lara chose to be optimistic and illustrated the example for a former West Indian teammate, who returned to play the game again after a brain surgery. (‘Hughes Getting Best Medial Treatment’)
Phil Simmons, who was struck by a short ball during a tour match against Gloucestershire in 1988, went on to play 143 ODIs and 26 Tests for the Caribbean side before calling time in 1999.
“I think he didn’t have a helmet and it was a similar thing, he had brain surgery,” Lara recalled. “But he was back on the cricket field 12 months later. It was a devastating situation back then,” the Prince of cricket said.