ER West Indies batsman Brian Lara insists cricket must not abandon the short ball despite one such delivery leaving Australia’s Philip Hughes fighting for his life.
Hughes remained in an induced coma and in critical condition last night after being struck on the head by a bouncer while playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old former Middlesex player needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the field and then emergency surgery, while traumatised team-mates who witnessed the incident have been offered counselling.
New South Wales fast-bowler Sean Abbott’s delivery has sparked debate about the adequacy of the sport’s safety measures, but Lara believes it would be wrong to vilify use of the short ball.
“It’s part of the game and they’ve done their best over the years to curb it and manage it as much as possible,” said the record-breaking Trinidadian right-hander, 45.
“It’s part of the armoury of a fast bowler and it’s very hard to take that totally away from him. There are some batsmen who feed off that sort of attack and I don’t believe it’s something that should affect the fast bowlers and the rules governing that.
“It’s a sport and you’re always going to have that element of risk. This is an unfortunate and rare situation. I suppose the authorities will be worried about something like this, how it happened and if it will ever happen again.
“I felt pretty safe playing. I knew the element of risk. A little prayer in the morning and hope for the best. I’ve been struck a couple of times – [by] Shoaib Akhtar and Glenn McGrath – but fortunately it hasn’t been at this level.”
Leading Australian doctor Peter Larkins said it was still possible that Hughes, who had been in line for a Test recall, could make a full recovery. He said: “Such head trauma injuries are seen in high-speed car crashes all the time and there are some miracle stories of full recoveries.”