A lethal weapon or a regular red leather ball?

Published: November 29, 2014
Email

PHOTO: AFP

STOCK IMAGE PHOTO: AFP

Cricket, the gentleman’s game, has seen so many changes since its inception, from coloured kits to batting power-plays, from mongoose bats to LED stumps, but one thing that has remained unchanged over these years is the hard, solid, weighing 5 3/4 ounce red cherry – the cricket leather ball.

And once again, the hard round ball has delivered a fatal blow which has plunged the cricketing fraternity into darkness and has also raised a question on the safety of the cricket ball. Once again it has been proved that it will hit harder than the stroke of any bat – the most recent being the death of Australian opener Phil Hughes, who was struck by a short bouncer in a domestic match for the New South Wales.

Hughes was attempting a pull shot, when he missed it and the ball struck him on the skull in an unprotected area, just below the safety helmet. Over these years, batsmen have employed different safety gears to combat the danger this little ball can cause. Even then the little missile sneaked in and caused irreparable damage.

But this is not the first time that the leather ball has dealt a deadly blow. Let’s take a look at some of the lives taken by this red cherry:

Darryn Randall (South Africa, 2013) Aged 32 years

The wicketkeeper-batsman was struck on the side of the head while attempting a pull shot during a domestic match in South Africa. He collapsed and was rushed to the hospital but the doctors failed to revive him.

Photo: Remembered.co.za

Zulfiqar Bhatti (Pakistan, 2013) Aged 22 years

He was struck on his chest and collapsed to the ground while batting during a club game in Pakistan. He was taken to the hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

Zulfiqar Bhatti (left), a local cricket player, died when a ball hit his chest during a match in Sukkur. Photo courtesy: Family

Alcwyn Jenkins (England, 2009) Aged 72 years

The umpire was struck on the head by a throw from one of the fielders while officiating in a league match. He was airlifted to a hospital but failed to recover.

Photo courtesy: Wales News

Raman Lamba (India, 1998), aged 38 years

The former Indian opener suffered brain injuries after being hit on the head while fielding at short-leg during a club match in Dhaka.

Photo courtesy: Sportstar 1987 edition

Abdul Aziz (Pakistan, 1959), aged 18 years

The wicketkeeper collapsed while batting after being hit in the chest in a domestic match in Karachi. He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

George Summers (England, 1870), aged 25 years

Summers died from a blow on the head while batting for Nottinghamshire at Lord’s. He died a few days later due to the injury.

Photo courtesy: ‘Cricket’ magazine

This list only contains of the deaths caused due to injury by the leather ball.

Seeing the number of players who are maimed, injured and even killed by this ball, one wonders if its usage should still be permitted on the pitch – and if yes, then what safety measures can be taken to ensure that it doesn’t become the lethal weapon it has the capacity to become? Policy makers have their work cut-out and they better act fast, before another Phillips Hughes loses his life.

Uzair Hasan Rizvi

Uzair Hasan Rizvi

A sports aficionado who is currently studying Masters in Journalism from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, New Delhi, India. He tweets as @RizviUzair (twitter.com/RizviUzair)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.