Cricket Australia pledges immediate action on safety as cricket world pauses for Phillip Hughes

November 28, 2014 – 7:14PM

Andrew Wu

Sports Writer

Honouring Phillip Hughes: Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland looks at tributes left at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Honouring Phillip Hughes: Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland looks at tributes left at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Photo: AFP

Phillip Hughes’ death has had such an impact on the cricket world that every Test- and cricket-playing nation had expressed their condolences to Cricket Australia, chief executive James Sutherland said on Friday.

Sutherland said the international response had been “enormous” since it was announced Hughes had died on Thursday afternoon. He was especially moved by a letter he received from Middlesex County Cricket Club in England, where Hughes played briefly in 2009 and averaged a staggering 143.5.

“He is and always will be fondly remembered here at Middlesex, even in the short time that he played for us. His average of 136.5 alone gives you an idea of the impression that he left on us. But most of all we remember a laid-back fun-filled young man who was kind to everyone and what a great talent he was,” the letter read.

The county’s cricket director, Angus Fraser, also penned a moving tribute of how the boy from Macksville made the seamless adjustment to life in London, aged 20. Keeping a promise to Hughes’  mentor, Neil D’Costa, Fraser would often ask the youngster what he had been doing.

“With a glint in his eye and a smile on his face he’d always insist he was great, the flat was fine and that he had had a quiet night in,” Fraser wrote on the club’s website.

“Like most Aussies he was ‘low maintenance’ and in the end we both just ended up laughing when I asked the question.”

Fraser said Hughes’ approach to the game was a lesson to many players his senior, describing him as a “tremendous competitor”.

Fraser recalled a confrontation Hughes had with the “formidable” former South African Test paceman Andre Nel during an innings of 195 against Surrey at The Oval.

“Nel had taken exception to the hiding he was receiving and bowled a beamer at Hughes,” Fraser wrote.

“Even now I still have this wonderful vision of the diminutive Hughes following the bear-like Nel down the pitch to inform the bowler he was: ‘weak, ******* weak, that is why

you quit international cricket to play for Surrey’. Nel did not turn round to take him on.”

Sutherland said the circumstances surrounding Hughes’ death would lead to an examination of  safety protocols.

While many have said no amount of legislation could have prevented the accident which caused Hughes’ death, CA said something needed to be done in the interests of cricketers around the world.

“Statistics say it’s clearly a freak incident but one freak incident is one freak incident too many,” Sutherland said. “That puts us in a position of looking into that.

“We will immediately, in consultation with the manufacturers and the other safety providers or regulators, look into it to make sure these things are addressed and improved.

“It’s a matter of interest not just for us here but for us in Australia and cricketers all over the world.”

The future of short-pitched bowling is set to be a hot topic, though it’s worth noting it was the lack of pace from a bouncer which deceived Hughes, who was attempting to play a pull shot.

“I think all of those things around safety need to be looked at and will be considered,” Sutherland said.

“One of the things about the game of cricket, it’s finely tuned balance between bat and ball, that’s what the game is built on and those things will need to be very carefully considered.”

Although it remains unclear if the first Test will go ahead, Sydney’s under 21 Poidevin Gray Shield competition will continue this weekend. Junior and club cricket will also go ahead.

CA has urged clubs and associations to observe a minute’s silence before each day’s play and for players to wear black armbands in honour of Hughes.

Junior competitions have also been asked to allow batsmen to retire on 63, Hughes’ score when he was felled on Tuesday, rather than the customary 50not out.

Although this has been one of the saddest weeks in the long history of the sport, Sutherland said cricket would emerge “stronger and better for this”.

He said it was difficult to know how kids around the country would react to Hughes’ death but said it would not stop fans around the country from continuing to love the game.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Michael Clarke is hurting as much as anyone over Phillip Hughes tragedy

November 28, 2014 – 5:42AM

Andrew Webster

Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

Death rarely makes sense. Neither does life, really.

For the best part of two days, Michael Clarke has sat at the bedside of Phillip Hughes and held his hand.

Dark day: An emotional Michael Clarke at the press conference following Phillip Hughes’ death on Thursday.

Dark day: An emotional Michael Clarke at the press conference following Phillip Hughes’ death on Thursday.Photo: Reuters

There are many people carrying heavy hearts right now after Hughes lost his battle for life in St Vincent’s hospital on Thursday afternoon. But the Australian captain’s weighs a tonne. As anyone who has been in that situation knows, letting go is the hardest part.

On Monday night, with the gaze of a nation on his left hamstring, Clarke was at an exclusive function at a plush Darling Point residence to launch his ambassadorship with a luxurious watch manufacturer. It provided a rare moment for him to pause and reflect on his career.

“I owe the game everything, the game owes me nothing,” he told me. “Without the game of cricket, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Clarke and Hughes at training in England last year.

Clarke and Hughes at training in England last year. Photo: Getty Images

Who could’ve forecast that less than a day later the game of cricket was the reason his best mate was being operated on for bleeding on the brain following a “catastrophic” blow to the side of his neck from a bouncer?

Who could’ve predicted Clarke would be fronting a media conference at St Vincent’s late on Thursday, ashen-faced and a broken man, reading a statement on behalf of the Hughes family?

“We’re devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother Phillip,” Clarke read. “It’s been a very difficult few days. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from family, friends, Cricket Australia and the general public. Cricket was Phillip’s life, and we shared that love of the game with him. We love you.”

Friends and teammates gathered on the SCG pitch to remember cricketer Phillip Hughes on Thursday evening.

Friends and teammates pay respects to Phillip Hughes

On Thursday night, teammates and friends of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes travelled to the Sydney Cricket Ground to grieve together. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Then Clarke quickly left, leaving it to an emotional Australian team doctor Peter Brukner to explain the captain’s knock behind closed doors none of us had seen.

“Phillip’s always been like a little brother to Michael,” Brukner said. “Michael’s efforts over the last 48 hours to support the family, who have obviously been going through a difficult time … I’m not sure they would’ve coped without Michael’s assistance. I was enormously impressed with the work that he did in the genuine care and love he gave to the Hughes family. He deserves enormous credit.”

The effusive words you will continue to hear in coming days about Hughes being a much-loved cricketer and individual are not lip service. They are authentic and what you’d expect of an unassuming kid from Macksville who had fought hard for everything he ever received, especially the baggy green – number 408 in Australian cricket’s order of merit – he should’ve worn far more times than in his 26 Tests.

The pair leave the field in Durban in 2009.

The pair leave the field in Durban in 2009. Photo: Getty Images

That small river town on the NSW mid-north coast issued its own statement hours after their favourite son’s death. “We’re all here for you,” the town told the Hughes family. It’s what small towns do.

The only time I met Hughes came through Clarke a couple of years ago in the bar of the Randwick Rugby Club – of which Clarke’s good friend Anthony Bell was president – after a game of club rugby. Sportspeople – especially cricketers – are usually guarded round reptiles of the press. Hughes was adamant I’d be joining him and Clarke for the rest of the night. “You’re coming with us to Ravesi’s,” he kept repeating calmly, with a cheeky grin, referring to the fashionable Bondi Beach hotel.

There’s a similar story about Hughes from 2012 when he was playing for Australia A against South Africa. He’d been cut from the Test side the previous summer after being dismissed in almost identical fashion four times in a row facing New Zealand paceman Chris Martin. The cricketing media had been brutal in their analysis. He was accordingly dumped.

When Hughes spotted the press at the SCG before the Australia A match, he came up to each reporter, looked them in the eyes, and shook their hands. “How you going?” he asked warmly.

Some players hold grudges for the remainder of their careers and beyond. Not the young cricketer, who saw a bigger picture.

When Hughes was in the ambulance on Tuesday afternoon, en route from the SCG to the hospital, word filtered through to St Vincent’s that it was a “cricket-related incident”.

Those in the emergency room were expecting it to be a park cricketer. Some of them were said to be stunned and shaken when they saw the familiar face – and the critical state he was in.

For the past two days, some of us had been told privately to expect the worst, even though you could only ever publicly hope for the best. The silence told the score. The briefest of statements from Cricket Australia’s doctors and officials suggested there was going to be no miracle.

So, too, the line of past and present cricketers and family and friends who converged on St Vincent’s to say goodbye on Thursday. “Hundreds of them,” Brukner said.

The grey look on their faces as each of them emerged through the hospital’s automatic doors and out towards Victoria Street exposed how dire the situation was.

Australian opener Dave Warner had held Hughes’ hand on the medicab as it left the SCG. Now he was leaving the hospital with an arm slung around his fiancée, Candice Falzon, broken with grief.

One of the visitors was broadcaster Alan Jones, who was seemingly preparing all of us for the inevitable on his 2GB program earlier that morning when he said: “What happened is that the blow from the cricket ball damaged a major artery in the back of his head and that caused bleeding over the skull and prevented blood from going to the brain … It’s much more serious than anyone had imagined. He’s a very special young man, this fellow, and, well, I guess I’m just grateful that …”

Jones – the man who thunders away at prime ministers and premiers – failed to finish his sentence, choked with emotion.

Some say cricket is a team sport played by individuals. The Australian XI is the most revered side in the country. It’s certainly its most scrutinised.

Schisms in the national team have existed for decades, and that’s expected because you need ego and swagger as much as talent to thrive in international cricket.

In the last three days, though, Australian cricket has wrapped their arms around themselves like never before. It’s been reminiscent of the wretched events earlier this year when jockey Nathan Berry mystifyingly died of Norse syndrome, which relates to epilepsy.

The racing family lives with death every meeting, every race. They’ve had so much of it. Yet it never comes easy. Berry’s twin brother, Tommy, says it would’ve been easier if Nathan had died from a race fall, because it would’ve made more sense.

The cricket family has never dealt with something like this, though, despite the inherent and often hidden dangers of playing a sport with cricket balls travelling at 140 kilometres an hour, flying off unpredictable pitches.

“Phillip Hughes died playing the sport he loved – amongst those who loved him,” Australian Cricketers’ Association boss Alastair Nicholson said. “His final shot typified this approach and his approach to the game: aggressive, positive and defiant.”

What happens now?

It seems inappropriate to speculate about ambulance response times and whether Hughes was wearing an up-to-date helmet, even though others have.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland didn’t want to speculate on what Hughes’ death will mean for the first Test that starts next Thursday in Brisbane.

“The whole of Australian cricket is grieving,” Sutherland said. “We haven’t thought that far ahead.”

It will be a surprise if the Test doesn’t go ahead. Which Australian players will be available is another matter altogether.

The inescapable fact remains that cricket has potentially changed forever. It’s certainly lost its innocence. The bouncer is an intrinsic part of the contest between bat and ball. Don’t worry about whether it should be outlawed. Which bowler would dare attack an opponent’s head after this?

“The game will go on,” former Test batsman Mark Waugh said soon after Hughes’ passing. “But cricket will be different for a long time.”

So will the men who play it.

 

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Michael Clarke called Shane Watson a ‘cancer’ on the team says former coach Mickey Arthur

July 16, 2013 – 9:21PM

Andrew Wu and Chris Barrett

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“Meat in the sandwich”: Mickey Arthur (left) claims he was drawn into the feud between Michael Clarke (right) and Shane Watson. Photo: AFP

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Shane Watson of Australia waits to bat during a nets session at Colts Cricket Club on September 18, 2012 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images,)

Focal point: Shane Watson. Photo: Gareth Copley

Michael Clarke described teammate Shane Watson as a ”cancer” on the Australian cricket team, according to documents lodged by ousted coach Mickey Arthur as part of a $4 million claim against Cricket Australia.

Arthur has reportedly detailed some of the dressing room acrimony which has marred the national team’s on-field performances this year.

In a statement of claim lodged in a Melbourne court, Arthur claims he was the ”meat in the sandwich” in the divisive feud between Clarke and Watson.

”There was major tension between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson,” Channel Seven reported from Arthur’s document of claim.

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It is believed the rift between Clarke and Watson has been an issue Arthur has had to manage since his appointment in November 2011.

Arthur is seeking $4 million from CA after being dumped as coach 16 days before the start of the Ashes and replaced immediately by Darren Lehmann.

His legal action against CA includes claims he was discriminated against because he was South African and he was not supported by the governing body after he and Clarke imposed unprecedented sanctions against four players over the notorious homework scandal on the tour of India in March.

Arthur is also claiming Watson tipped him off over David Warner’s bar-room punch on England’s Joe Root which resulted in the Australian batsman being suspended in the team’s lead-up games to the Ashes. Watson has previously denied any involvement in bringing the incident to Arthur’s attention, saying ”it had absolutely nothing to do with me”.

Arthur’s manager, Rossco Barrat, would not comment on the pending legal action but said on Tuesday that he was already in talks about landing the South African’s next job. ”We believe that Mickey has got a lot to offer world cricket and I’m exploring opportunities for him,” he said.

Cricket Australia general manager of legal and business affairs Dean Kino said: ”We’re disappointed that it’s come to this. CA is quite clear on its position on this matter and I’m sure it will get resolved in the appropriate fashion.”

The Australian team has been beset by disharmony within some quarters in the lead-up to the tour of England. Arthur, however, lost his job and was made the fall guy for Australia’s sliding performances on and off the field.

Arthur has hired the services of legal firm Harmers Lawyers, the same firm which represented Kristy Fraser-Kirk in her $37 million suit against David Jones.

Warner said on Monday he felt partly responsible for his role in Arthur’s axing because of his conduct at a Birmingham nightclub during the Champions Trophy.

Arthur became the first foreign-born coach of the Australian cricket team after succeeding Tim Nielsen in November 2011.

He led Australia to series wins against India, the West Indies and Sri Lanka before the team was thrashed 4-0 in India earlier this year.

Brisbane Times