Australia news November 25, 2014

The inherent dangers of batting

The sickening blow that struck Phillip Hughes is a reminder of the ever-present dangers associated with facing fast bowlers, even while wearing a helmet

As these past examples show, the serious risks involved in playing cricket cannot be underestimated, and can cause distress for all involved.

Nari Contractor
After being struck on the head by a bouncer from the fearsomely fast Charlie Griffith during the Indians' tour match against Barbados in March 1962, Contractor was led from the field with blood coming from his nose and ears. His skull was fractured and he needed two emergency operations to remove clots on the brain, and West Indies captain Frank Worrell was one of those who gave blood to help Contractor while his life was in danger. Unconscious for six days, Contractor recovered and early the following year was back playing first-class cricket again, although he never played another Test.

Ewen Chatfield
The gut-wrenching nature of such incidents was never more apparent than when Chatfield was hit on the left temple by a bouncer from Peter Lever during the Auckland Test between New Zealand and England in February 1975. Chatfield staggered for a few seconds, then fell over, and the England players saw him twitching unconscious on the ground. Bernard Thomas, the England physiotherapist, stopped Chatfield from swallowing his tongue and then realised there was no resuscitation equipment available. "It was the worst case I have seen and I never want to see another," he said later. "His heart had stopped beating and technically that's the sign of dying." The effect on the bowler was enormous. "I honestly thought I had killed him as I saw him lying there in convulsions," Lever said. "I felt sick and ashamed at what I had done and all I could think when I got back to the pavilion was that I wanted to retire." Chatfield was rushed to hospital and regained full consciousness half an hour later, although he had a hairline fracture to his skull. Chatfield, who was on debut, went on to play 43 Tests.

Andy Lloyd
Like Chatfield, the Warwickshire opener Andy Lloyd was on Test debut when he was hit. Unlike Chatfield, he never played another Test. At Edgbaston in June 1984, Lloyd was struck on the side of the helmet by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer and was hospitalised for more than a week with blurred vision. He did not play first-class cricket again until the following year, and his eyesight was never quite the same again. Although his Test career was over, he went on to play county cricket until 1992.

Bert Oldfield
The Bodyline series was at times stomach-turning, but never more so than when Australia's wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield top-edged an attempted pull off a Harold Larwood bouncer and had his skull cracked. The incident could not be said to be the result of Bodyline bowling, for Larwood was operating with a regulation field at the time, but Bodyline and Oldfield are now inextricably linked. Oldfield stumbled away from the crease and collapsed. He missed only one Test as a result of the incident and told Larwood it was not the bowler's fault, but his own for missing the ball.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul
When Chanderpaul was hit on the back of the helmet by a Brett Lee bouncer during the Sabina Park Test of 2008, he crumpled motionless to the ground. "I did not know where I was," Chanderpaul said later. "My entire body went numb. I could not move my hands and I could not move my feet." Chanderpaul was on 86 at the time and after a few minutes of gathering himself, he carried on batting and went on to score one of his most remarkable centuries. Brain scans cleared Chanderpaul of serious injury.

Rick McCosker
One of cricket's most iconic images is that of Rick McCosker with head bandaged going out to bat in the Centenary Test between Australia and England at the MCG in 1977. McCosker had a broken jaw, courtesy of a Bob Willis bouncer in the first innings, but he came out to bat at No. 10 in the second innings and made 25. "I didn't feel anything, I just heard this big awful noise inside my head," McCosker said of the bouncer. "Everything just went numb. Blood everywhere. I walked off by myself. I missed about two days because I was in hospital for a day and a half."

Ben Rohrer
The bouncer that felled Hughes was not the first to cause distress in the Sheffield Shield this summer. In the first round, New South Wales batsman Ben Rohrer was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Victoria fast bowler Chris Tremain at the MCG. Rohrer tried to duck the delivery but it hit him in the side of the head. After staggering a few steps, Rohrer fell to the ground and left the field sitting on a motorised stretcher. Precautionary scans showed no serious injury but the other players were concerned for his safety at the time. "I was very worried," Peter Nevill, the non-striker, said. "It looked very nasty. It got him flush. Straight away he was struggling." Only last week, more than a fortnight after the incident, Rohrer was still affected. "I'm still struggling, it hasn't been a good couple of weeks," Rohrer told the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday. "Hopefully I've turned the corner, I'm starting to feel a bit better and the doctor thinks it'll resolve itself soon."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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