Death in sport is hard to stomach, but sport must go on

IT hasn’t been such a good week for the world of cricket. Not long after the death of Australian test batsman Phil Hughes was announced, news broke that the former Israeli cricket captain Hillel Oscar had died while umpiring a match.

Both Hughes and Oscar died in similar fashion, having been struck by cricket balls.

In Hughes’ case, he was struck by a “bouncer” during a match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He died a few days after surgery.

In Oscar’s case, the ball hit the batsman, hit the wicket and then struck him in the chest and neck region. He died later in hospital.

Cricket definitely has its dangers, but you wouldn’t really consider the sport to be “dangerous” or “unsafe” especially since batsman have protective gear such as leg pads and helmets.

Before these two deaths, I could only find a few cases of cricketers who had died on the oval of play: Pakistani Wasim Raja and Bangladeshi Raman Lamba among them.

So two cricket-related deaths in the span of a few days certainly came as a shock. 

Every now and then, we are shocked by news that an athlete has died on the field of play. In football, the likes of Marc Vivien Foe and Antonio Puerta, two high-profile players who died on the pitch because of heart issues, come to mind.

There were many others who were playing in the lower levels such as Peter Biaksangzuala who died from spine injuries after landing awkwardly while attempting a summersault after scoring a goal in India’s Mizoram Premier League.

Akli Fairuz, a striker for Premier League side Persiraja died after receiving a boot to his chest from the opposing goalkeeper.

All in all, more than 100 deaths have been recorded on Wikipedia’s “List of association footballers who died while playing.”

Whatever it is, these deaths make you realise how fragile life is. And in that moment, winning doesn’t matter.

I recall when the great Aryton Senna died after his car hit a wall at the San Marino Grand Prix in May 1994. A day before that Roland Ratzenberger died during qualifying at the same grand prix.  

Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said that football is much more important than life and death. It has a really romantic ring to it, but I can’t agree with Shankly on this one.

The one thing that I can say though is that while death in sport is tragic, life goes on.

Some consider it an honour to die wearing your club or country’s colours.

Sean Abbott, the man who bowled the fatal ball that killed Hughes, is still deciding if he should continue playing the game.

I can only imagine what he is going through and every time he bowls a ball, you wonder if he will go for his usual attacking style.

One can only hope that Abbott continues doing what he does best, in honour of Hughes. I feel Hughes would want it.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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Sports , death , cricket , Phil Hughes


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