Phil Hughes, an Australian cricketer, is currently in coma and undergoing emergency surgery at Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Hospital after being hit by a bouncer in a cricket match.
The 25-year-old suffered the brutal injury while playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales on Tuesday. He misjudged the trajectory of Sean Abbott's bouncer, and copped the ball flush on his head.
Following the blow, he stayed on his feet for a few seconds before falling face down on the pitch. The manner of his fall had made it clear that Hughes' injury was a nasty one, which is why both his teammates and opposing players immediately called for medical help.
At least three ambulances and their medical staff unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate Hughes before he was transported to the hospital. His condition has been described as critical.
Hughes has represented Australia in 26 Tests and 20 ODIs. He is currently not a part of the international squad but was hoping to work his way back into Michael Clarke's plans by performing on the domestic circuit.
Cricket is generally not a violent sport and instances of players getting injured are quite rare. The bouncer delivery is the only facet of the game with any potential of causing physical harm to the batsman. Its usage in limited over format has been limited to make the sport safer, but the same hasn't been the case in four and five-day matches.
Moreover, there has also been some debate regarding the shielding capability of cricket helmets. Ayrtek's headgear – made of carbon fibre and Kevlar shell – was considered quite safe but it failed earlier this year when a delivery by India's Varun Aaron penetrated past its shield and hit English cricketer Stuart Broad on his nose.
Another recent case of a cricket helmet failing to protect the batsman from rising bouncer was of Pakistani batsman Ahmed Shehzad. The right-hander fractured his skull in Pakistan's recent Test win over New Zealand when the ball went through his helmet guard and hit him on his temple.
Experts might also point to new age batsmen's faulty technique for their newfound troubles against bouncers, as they are supposed to keep their head still and tilted down against rising deliveries. Whatever it is, the game's authorities need to sort it out – either through rule changes or better coaching methods.