The death of cricketer Phillip Hughes came as a huge shock to the sport, making major headlines here in the UK. Cricket is a national game of ours and not readily understood by our cousins across the Atlantic. To Americans, cricket seems like the quintessential English game, played by gentleman where never a cross word is spoken between the players.
Well, that’s a complete lie. Cricket is a game full of intimidation, mainly through the short-pitched bowling whereby a bowler attempts to strike fear into a batsmen by aiming the ball squarely at his head. Although batsmen are required to wear helmets, this provided Hughes little protection when he was struck at the top of his neck by what is known in the game as a ‘bouncer’.
Hughes had swiveled to play a hook shot and missed the ball which subsequently hit him on the back of the neck. He paused for a few moments with his hands on his knees before collapsing face-first into the ground. Players rushed to his side and medics were on scene almost immediately. Hughes was taken from the field and administered CPR before being transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital.
He underwent 90 minutes of emergency surgery before being placed in a medically-induced come but died a day later of his injuries. The cause of death was reported to have been a split artery in his neck, which caused catastrophic bleeding into his brain. Phillip Hughes never regained consciousness after collapsing to the ground on that fateful Tuesday afternoon.
Cricket is a game played mainly in post-Colonial territories such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Pakistan and the death of Hughes was felt keenly by anyone who had even a passing interest in the game. The overwhelming support that Hughes and his family have received shows that, despite old rivalries, cricket is a family and one that supports those who play it.
While sympathy has been overwhelming for Hughes and his family during this difficult time, players and fans alike have also rallied around Sean Abbot, the man unfortunate enough to bowl the ball that caused the death of his good friend Phillip Hughes. It is incomprehensible to even begin to understand what this young sportsman is going through, knowing that he played some part, however unintentional, in killing a fellow player.
Sean Abbot’s intention was not to hurt Hughes when he bowled that ball, it was just a freak set of circumstances that resulted in Hughes’ untimely death. If Abbot had not bowled a bouncer, if Hughes had not miss-timed his shot, if the ball had hit his helmet instead of his neck…. All of these variables could have resulted in a different outcome and one in which Hughes would have lived to tell the tale.
But fate is a fickle mistress and we may never know why she chose to take a man who had so much to offer, not only as a sportsman but also as a decent human being. We cannot question fate, merely accept it for what it is: a stark reminder that nothing in this life is guaranteed. If Phillip Hughes’ death teaches us anything, let it be that we should never assume that there will always be a tomorrow. When life presents you an opportunity, you must grab it with both hands and live every day as if it is your last.
Though I cannot claim to know the pain and suffering the Hughes family are going through, I do know what it feels to lose someone close to you so unexpectedly. Though I still miss my cousin every day, I try to live my life in a way that honors her memory and I will never forget all of the good that she brought into my life.
My cousin, just like Phillip Hughes, was taken from this world far before her time. Though I still don’t understand why she was taken from us, I am forever thankful for the difference she made to my life and I will love and miss her until I finally meet up with her again in Heaven.
RIP Phillip Joel Hughes 30/11/88 – 27/11/2014