Aussie cricketer Phil Hughes’ tragic on-field death unavoidable: Report

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Canberra, May 11 (IANS) An independent review into the tragic passing of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes has found even the latest safety equipment would not have prevented his death, but new measures could prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.

The review was ordered by Cricket Australia (CA) following the shock death of Hughes in November 2014, when a cricket ball struck him in the neck while playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield competition, reports Xinhua.

The recommendations from the review were released to the public on Wednesday, and, while it concluded Hughes’ life would not have been saved by wearing new safety gear worn by players in the wake of his death, it listed a number of recommendations to prevent the occurrence of a similar tragedy in the future.

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Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the inquest into Hughes’ passing was critical, so that any future tragedy could best be prevented.

“We had a deep obligation to understand everything that occurred on the day, so that we can prevent a similar accident in the future,” Sutherland told the press on Wednesday.

Recommendations listed in the 62-page report include the possible introduction of a “concussion substitute”, making it mandatory for all first-class cricketers to wear helmets against all medium or fast-paced bowling, and requiring all close-in fielders (those within seven meters of the bat – except slip fielders) to wear helmets.

Sutherland said implementing these measures was the next logical step in improving the safety of all cricketers – particularly those at a high level, but admitted rule changes such as the concussion sub would change the “fabric” of the game.

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“We’ve suggested a concussion substitute,” Sutherland said, “but one of the fundamentals of cricket is that it is and always has been a game for 11 players, so it will be a challenge.”

“The desire is for medical staff to have the ultimate judgement in cases of concussions, however (the implementation of a new rule) does need to be thought through, as it’s not just a health and safety issue, it involved the fundamentals of the game and how it has been played (for more than 100 years).”

The report did not fully endorse the use of neck guards as a proven way of preventing a similar tragedy, but it did say research into improving the safety of helmets and guards for batsmen would continue.

Despite the report’s skepticism over neck guards, Sutherland said he recommended batsmen wear them “as much as they can” while more research was being carried out.

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The measures were suggested for all first-class forms of cricket in Australia, and although CA does not have jurisdiction over local levels of cricket – in which more than one million Australians take part – Sutherland suggested local cricket organizations similarly adopt the report’s measures.

“If (the recommendations) are good enough for an international level, then we’re obviously sending that message to the community as well,” he told the press.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is also expected to consider the recommendations at its next meeting next month, meaning some of the mandates could be implemented at international levels (Test, ODI matches) and not just Australian first-class matches.



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