Skip to main content

Abbott urged to bowl bouncers again, despite Phil Hughes death

By Piers Edwards, CNN
updated 4:03 AM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Australia international Phil Hughes died on Thursday, two days after being hit by a cricket ball while playing a professional match for his South Australia side in Sydney. Australia international Phil Hughes died on Thursday, two days after being hit by a cricket ball while playing a professional match for his South Australia side in Sydney.
HIDE CAPTION
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
Phil Hughes: 1988-2014
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former England star advises Sean Abbott to bowl a 'bouncer' as early as possible
  • An Abbott bouncer unwittingly resulted in the death of Phillip Hughes last month
  • Both Abbott and Australia took to the field for the first time since the incident on Tuesday

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- If you fall off while riding a bike, get back on it as soon as you can.

That's what conventional wisdom suggests.

So what would be the advice to a cricketer who has inadvertently killed an opponent while bowling a short-pitched delivery?

According to one former England cricketer, it's to deliver exactly the same ball.

Read: Bowler Abbott left in 'heartbreaking' place

Michael Clarke's emotional eulogy
Family and friends mourn cricket star
CEO: No one loved cricket more than Phil
Phil Hughes laid to rest

And that's what happened when Australian Sean Abbott returned to action, bowling competitively for the first time since delivering the 'bouncer' that resulted in the death of Phillip Hughes late last month.

The New South Wales (NSW) player on Tuesday came on at the 12th over to applause from the small crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SGC) -- the same venue as the November 25 incident -- in the first session of a domestic four-day match against Queensland.

The over included a bouncer, his fifth ball.

Abbot went on to take two wickets and NSW bowling coach Geoff Lawson praised the 22-year-old's resilience.

"He's practiced well, he's looked good but you never know what's underneath the surface with young guys," said Lawson.

"But the proof is in the pudding -- he got onto this field and he did the business. He's a young guy on the way up and he played like it today so I guess his mindset is a pretty good one."

New South Wales players had black armbands on, in memory of Hughes.

"Abbott is doing the right thing by getting back on the pitch as soon as possible," Matthew Hoggard, who played for England between 2000-2008, told CNN prior to the start of Tuesday's game.

"If, in his first over, he can bowl a bouncer -- just to get rid of the stigma -- then he should.

"It would help get the horrible memory out of his mind."

"The longer he goes on without bowling a bouncer, the worse it will get. He needs to get back to bowling like he did."

Australia and India pay tribute

The Australian Test team also took to the field competitively, as the postponed First Test against India also began on Tuesday in Adelaide.

Prior to the game, players and coaching staff from both sides assembled on the field to honor Phil Hughes. Hughes was named as the 13th man for the match. A tribute by former Australian cricket captain and legendary commentary Richie Benaud played out followed by 63 seconds of applause.

Hughes, who had been tipped to earn an international recall for the Test, had made 63 runs when he received the delivery that shocked and rocked the cricketing world.

The Australian players all wore Hughes' Test cap number, 408, on their shirts as well as black armbands.

In the build up, one of Australia's lead bowlers has said he will not be changing his approach against India, following an incident that has been frequently been described as 'freak' by those within the game.

"I've been bowling very aggressive for the last 18 months and I'm not going to change that," Mitchell Johnson told reporters.

However, the paceman was left in a more quizzical mood when asked how he would react if one of his short-pitched deliveries were to hit an Indian batsman.

"I'm not sure," he replied. "It might be (a) different (reaction) this time."

Hughes' domestic team, South Australia, took on Tasmania in Hobart. It was the first time also his former teammates had taken to the field since his death. Both teams paused for 63 seconds before the start of play to remember Hughes. According to local ABC media, the South Australian playets had "PH 612" etched on their shirts, in reference to Hughes' South Australian cap number.

Read: Australia captain moves world to tears with eulogy

A bouncer is an aggressive delivery, pitched short and fast with a good ball rearing up at the batsman's upper torso and head. Abbott's ball to Hughes hit the batsman on the back of the head -- Hughes slumped to the floor and lost consciousness seconds after he was hit near his left ear. He was stretchered off the ground, put into an induced coma at hospital and and later died.

'Appalling incident'

'His best cricket was still ahead of him'
Australian Test cricket captain Michael Clarke reacts as he arrives for the funeral of Australian batsman Phil Hughes in his hometown of Macksville in northern New South Wales on December 3, 2014. Hughes died November 27, two days after being hit by a cricket ball during a match. Australian Test cricket captain Michael Clarke reacts as he arrives for the funeral of Australian batsman Phil Hughes in his hometown of Macksville in northern New South Wales on December 3, 2014. Hughes died November 27, two days after being hit by a cricket ball during a match.
Remembering Phil Hughes
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
Remembering Phil Hughes Remembering Phil Hughes
Cricketer hit by pitch, collapses
Compton 'sickened' by Hughes accident

Abbott has received nothing but support from the cricket family across the globe but Hoggard hopes it can go one step further on Tuesday.

Now retired, the former bowler believes the onus is on NSW's opponents Queensland to help the 22-year-old through his mental battle especially as his return to the game is at the same venue as the Hughes incident.

"To be stood at the wicket and run over the same spot where your friend died makes it doubly hard," opined Hoggard.

"The opposition has a big part to play as they need to tell Abbott to be himself and to bowl the short ball."

"Bowling bouncers is within the laws of the game and they are part of a bowler's armory, so you have to bowl short pitch.

"I'm sure Phil Hughes would not have wanted those laws to change."

Yet it's not just Abbott that Hoggard is worried about, since his teammates were bystanders to one of the most appalling incidents in cricketing history.

After the impact of the ball severed a vertebral artery, prompting a massive bleed into Hughes' brain, a number of New South Wales players -- Abbott included -- rushed to support the batsman's head after his collapse.

"They are all in the same boat," said Hoggard, who shed a tear at Hughes' death despite not knowing him.

"To have been holding their friend in their arms after the incident and then to find out later that he died, it would affect anybody.

"It's down to personality as to how they cope."

Read: Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes dies after 'freak' accident

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:38 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Click through our gallery of the most dramatic moments from the world of sport.
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
updated 9:08 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
updated 7:54 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
updated 6:25 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT