25-year-old Australian cricketer Hughes, who played 26 Tests for his country died after Sean Abbot’s bouncer was attempted too early and took a blow behind his left ear, below the helmet, in a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales on Tuesday.
“He never regained consciousness following his injury,” Australian team doctor Peter Brukner said in a statement.
Debates around the world by audiences on news and cricket sites have called for a ban on bouncers which seemed to be in favour of batsmen who lacked the art of tackling a short ball. The Times of India reports that the Masuri helmet that he was using left a significant part of the neck exposed. The latest model of the helmet has a larger front grille and greater neck protection. Most top Indian cricketers prefer to use Forma helmets, which have deeper protection at the back.
The Indian team immediately cancelled a two-day practice match against Cricket Australia XI as a mark of respect to Hughes. In Sharjah, the second day’s play of the third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand was called off.
“Compared to the Forma, the Masuri helmet is lighter and fancier but it compromises on the safety aspect. The lack of proper grills and enough cushion at the back of the head has been its problem,” former India wicketkeeper Kiran More told TOI on Thursday.
“Players like (Brian) Lara, (Ramnaresh) Sarwan and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul all shifted to the Forma helmets after being hit on the head. Rahul Dravid also switched to Forma after being hit on the Bangladesh tour,” More said.
Hughes was hit while attempting an attacking shot and playing the stroke too early. How to make cricket safer was a big talking point on Thursday. An option may be for standardized head-gear to be made mandatory at all levels of cricket.