Accident explained- Phil Hughes HIT
BATSMEN have been getting hit in the head in cricket for years.
But the impact to Phillip Hughes’ was very different.
There has been some suggestion that the horror accident could have been avoided if the South Australian star had been wearing a more modern helmet, but there’s more to it than that. After all, cricket helmets only became common for players in the late 1970s and many a player had been struck before then.
THE AREA OF IMPACT
THIS is the key element to the incident, described by former Test stars as “freak”, “unbelievable” and something that “just doesn’t happen in cricket”.
Hughes was turning his head at the moment the ball struck him, hitting him flush on the back of the head behind his left ear, narrowly missing the bottom of the rear of the helmet.
Sports doctor Dr Peter Larkins told the Herald Sun the precise area Hughes was hit is particularly vulnerable.
“The brain comes right down to the upper part of your neck, so when you get a fracture with bleeding underneath it can cause enormous pressure to build up in the spinal canal and go up into the brain,” Larkins said.
“The danger to Phil Hughes would be a combination of bleeding into the upper part of the spinal cord from the fracture.”
WOULD A NEWER HELMET HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE?
HUGHES was not wearing the very latest version of the Masuri helmet, which provides slightly more coverage of the back of the head.
Would it have saved Hughes? It is possible but unlikely — and largely irrelevant.
The area Hughes was hit in is very difficult to protect because batsmen need to be able to move their head and there is no helmet available that completely covers the back of the head.
Batsmen need that area to be free to allow for movement of the head — including to duck and weave.
Masuri managing director Sam Miller told the UK’s Sky Sports News: “We’ve looked at the footage, we’ve looked at the images, and everything’s quite pixilated at the moment.
“We can see the impact site was in a relatively unprotected area of the head — whether or not our new helmet … would have provided added protection for Phil, we don’t know.
“There is slightly better coverage but we’re talking centimetres as to where that ball hit and as to whether that would have made a difference.
“The key point there is you need a certain amount of free space there so guys can move.”
Watch a full explanation on the helmet and its protection in the video player at the top of the page
HOW COULD A BALL INFLICT SO MUCH DAMAGE?
DR Edouard Ferdinands of Sydney University, a world expert in cricket biomechanics, explains it best.
“The ball is small so the actual pressure is like a bullet effect,” he said, adding that the ball was likely travelling about 85km/h at the moment of impact.
“People think it’s only a ball — that’s an illusion. Where he was hit is the spot where there is some crucial brain matter.”
SHOULD THE BOUNCER BE BANNED?
FOR the cricket illiterate, a bouncer is a short-pitched delivery that — as the name suggests — bounces high and is generally targeted at a batsman’s head or neck area.
It has long been an essential part of the game and, in the opinion of a number of former Test players this morning, it should remain that way for years to come.
“If you take away that from the game it takes away that combative nature of cricket,” Australian great Matthew Hayden told Triple M.
“I know that we’re not running into massive human men, but you actually just want to challenge yourself and Test cricket is called that for a reason – it tests everything.
“When he fights through like we know he can, he’ll wake up and probably want to do it all over again.”
Added former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark: “As a fast bowler you’ve got to intimidate. That’s part of the game. It’s been a part of the game for a long period of time now and I hope it always will be.”
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