Hughes death unlikely to mean bouncer ban

Frank Dalleres
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WORLD cricket chiefs have played down the likelihood of a clampdown on the kind of short-pitched bowling that contributed to the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes last week.

Hughes, 25, died on Thursday, two days after a bouncer from Sean Abbott struck him on the top of the neck during a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney and left him fighting for his life.

The freak accident has prompted renewed debate over the sport’s safety, but International Cricket Council’s chief executive David Richardson indicated that rule changes were unlikely.

“We need to try and keep our perspective,” he said yesterday.

“It’s a bit early to determine, but my initial reaction is that that’s unlikely. People have died by being struck on the heart before. I don’t think cricket needs to overreact, but do what we can.”

Richardson’s comments came hours after Israel’s former captain Hillel Oscar died after being struck on the jaw by a ball while umpiring a league match in the city of Ashdod.

Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist believes helmet modifications are a more appropriate response to the death of 26-cap Hughes than outlawing the short ball.

“We’ve always thought it is maybe the temple, the cheekbones, the skull itself that we needed to protect,” he said. “That still remains, but now we are going to look at any ways of curtailing blows to the neck.”

Cricket Australia, meanwhile, has changed the scorecard for Hughes’s final match from recording the tragic batsman, who would have turned 26 yesterday, as retiring hurt to simply “63 not out”.

“It might seem like a little thing, but it’s an important distinction,” said chief executive James Sutherland. “Phillip will forever remain 63 not out.”

The accident happened when Hughes was playing for South Australia against New South Wales in a match subsequently abandoned.