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Phillip Hughes Death: No Helmet Could Have Prevented The Tragedy

Cricket to introduce concussion sub rule.
Hughes on his successful debut series in South Africa in 2009.
Hughes on his successful debut series in South Africa in 2009.

Helmets have been significantly upgraded since the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes in November 2014. But even today's modified helmets are not enough to prevent a similar tragedy.

This is the key finding from the Independent Review into the death of Phillip Hughes, who died when struck by a short-pitched ball while playing for South Australia against New South Wales at the SCG.

Cricket Australia commissioned the review.

Here are its key points:

  • Hughes received "appropriate treatment". Lack of medical attention did not contribute to his death.
  • Even helmets which meet the recently introduced British standard would not have saved Hughes.
  • Cricket will likely introduce a concussion substitute rule similar to that which exists in contact sports.
  • Defibrillators should be in place at all matches.
  • All first-class cricketers should wear helmets when facing medium or fast-paced bowling. This applies in games and also in net practice sessions.
  • All close-in fielders within seven metres of the batsman should be compelled to wear helmets. The exception is fielders behind square on the off side (i.e. slips and gully fielders).
  • Wicket keepers should wear protective eye-wear and head-wear, and always wear helmets when they are "standing up" to the stumps.
  • And lastly, the report determined that Hughes' death was a "freak accident".

You can read the full report here.

The new British standard helmet includes "stem-guard neck protectors", which are an additional flap which protects the area where Hughes was struck. But the Independent Review said more research needed to be carried out to determine the efficacy of the protectors due to "limited scientific evidence".

Ironically, Phillip Hughes's good friend and former teammate in English county cricket, Nick Compton, said last month he was no fan of the new helmets.

"For me there are so many rules and regulations now," he told London's The Telegraph.

"Health and safety and all these regulations, they do my head in. You look at the Phil Hughes incident. It was well publicised that he was one of my best friends and I'm always thinking of him, but what happened was a freak accident."

This, too, is the general conclusion of the Independent Review into Phillip Hughes' death. That despite advancements in helmet technology, one-in-a-million accidents happen. But that doesn't mean cricket can't take other steps to make cricket safer.

"The global cricket community was deeply saddened by the tragic death of Phillip Hughes and the great loss his family suffered," Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said.

"We received Mr Curtain's review last season and since that time we have been considering his recommendations and discussing with relevant bodies as to how we best make changes necessary to prevent an accident of this nature happening again.

"While there will always be a small risk we believe that the measures we have already taken and will enact following this review will reduce that risk even further."

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