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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Phil Hughes injury ~ something on helmet .... and on skullcap too !!

Sadly, Phil Hughes was injured in a Sheffield match – and is in hospital – yesterday I had posted about Cricket injuries – most of them came under hostile conditions like the Kingston carnage when Holding, Daniel and others ripped off, when Sarfraz, Imran, Wasim Akram, Akhthar struck, Bob Willis bounced or Australia served bouncers from slinging Thomson, Lillee, Walker and more ……. Phillip Hughes's injury  is described as  'horribly fluky' occurrence. 

One good thing visible was the way the injury was handled initially by the players and then medicos.  Players did not surround, David Warner and few others appeared concerned and composed in putting him on to a stretcher and to a medical vehicle, trying to provide comfort and first aid; he was taken off the field, given CPR and mouth-to-mouth, then taken in ambulance to  St Vincent's Hospital where he had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain caused by internal bleeding, before being placed in the hospital's intensive care unit. He remains critical – with the timely and speedy treatment, should recover and be back. 

The South Australia opener, according to Cricket Australia, was “struck on the back, lower left side of the head when he turned away as he followed through with an attempted pull-shot to a regulation short-pitched delivery from young NSW quick Sean Abbott”. Pictures  and videos of the incident shows  hitting Hughes in that place,  Hughes braced himself on his knees and looked at his feet before collapsing forward onto the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground. As the 25-year-old fights for his life, questions are now being asked about player safety.  It is stated that Phil Hughes was not wearing the most up-to-date helmet when a delivery from Sean Abbott struck him in the head, leaving him critically injured.   The British company who made the helmet, Masuri, has refused to say if its newer model would have spared Hughes.

The former Test batsman was wearing an original Test helmet by Masuri when a short-pitched bowl bounced up and hit him behind his left ear. The area is not protected by the helmet so the cricketer can move his head while batting.  The hard ball can obviously break the skin on the surface of the head, which doesn't matter much, unless it fractures the skull," it is stated -  "The skull is the major protective element for the brain, so once that happens you are concerned about injuries underneath." These could include concussion-type injuries, where the brain is shaken inside the skull, which can be mild or severe, and bruise the brain.  If there is bleeding inside the brain, there could be build-up of blood within the skull, and that blood causes pressure on the brain which can cause further injury.

Phil Hughes’ helmet manufacturer Masuri are reportedly seeking video footage of the moment. Hughes was wearing a Masuri Original Test model helmet which does not protect the back of a batsman’s head, a particularly vulnerable area.  It is stated that the  newly-developed Masuri Vision Series helmet, which supersedes the 2013 helmet worn by Phil Hughes, does afford batsmen extra protection in this region – and still allows comfortable movement.

Masuri are one of the helmet manufacturers who have worked closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board, International Cricket Council and British Standards in developing helmets which pass from stringent testing. But most of the improvements have focused on the front of the helmet to strengthen grilles and reduce the gap between the grille and peak of the helmet to prevent balls penetrating a causing serious facial injuries.

The Company’s web states that the story began in Cape Town in 1988 with the creation of the now commonplace stainless steel grille. They were an instant success, replacing the existing polycarbonate and the heavy, coated mild steel grilles. Somerset and Western Province batsman, Jon Hardy, who designed the grilles, sold the first three to Dean Jones, Geoff Marsh and David Boon at Somerset’s early season match against the Ashes winning 1989 Australians. 3D sports in Cheltenham immediately bought the whole of the initial stock of 1,000 grilles and sold out within weeks. Work then began to create the first lightweight, adjustable helmet and Masuri soon became the most widely worn in the first class and International arena and the choice of players like Mike Atherton, Graham Gooch, Robin Smith and Brian Lara. Masuri were the first to introduce the titanium visor, fielding visor, wicket keeping helmet and the compact, three layer, 'sandwich construction’ shell.

Now based in the UK with distribution throughout the cricketing world, the brand continues to be a market leader and a favourite with International and first class players. This is true regardless of the fact that no player has ever been paid to wear the Masuri helmet whilst Masuri’s competitors pay for the privilege of having professional players wear their helmets.

Whichever brand it be, the safety standards and quality of equipments have improved over the years.  According to Chris Taylor, the former Yorkshire batsman who now runs leading retailer All Rounder Cricket in Leeds, little can be done to protect that area of the body. He is quoted as saying helmet doesn’t protect all of the head, there’s a gap for your eyes, there’s a gap where your neck is, so you have to expect some blows at some stage and this is very unfortunate for Phil Hughes. Simply extending the helmet so that it covers the neck is impractical, Taylor believes. Hughes was wearing a helmet …. ..when  a ball strikes a helmet the helmet's role is to dissipate the energy of the ball by deforming. The energy it takes to deform the helmet is energy that isn't transmitted to the wearer. Masuri utilises energy absorbing foam injected into a cavity between inner and outer shells to fulfil this function.  The key to keeping the wearer safe is dissipating the energy of the ball as it connects with the helmet and reducing the impact pressure on the head.

In olden days, helmets and protective gear were not available.  Pure bowlers like Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, VV Kumar too were not spared – there were times when the tail was bounced and took blows on the body. There was body-line, there was Sabina Park carnage and more. 

The little Master whose technique was so sound, played without a helmet almost throughout his career – and faced the fastest and furious bowlers in West India, Australia, England and Pakistan.  

Towards the close of his career, when had already scored 27 test centuries, in 1983 when Pakistan toured India after World Cup 1983,  Sunil Gavaskar tried a skull cap with Panama cap on for the first time in an ODI against Pak at Delhi – a match played under lights for the first time in India.  It was a skull cap made of fibre – which Gavaskar used against the touring West Indies in 1983 too.  Mike Brearly too used a similar skullcap.



With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Nov. 2014.



Gavaskar photo credit : www.thegoogly.com

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