Andrew Faulkner, in The Australian, 12 February 2017, where the title runs “Sickening blow to Sam Harper revives memories of Phillip Hughes” …
Every time a ball, or a bat, thuds into a player’s head, which has been happening a lot lately, troubled minds are immediately hauled back to November 25, 2014. Mercifully none of the recent blows has ended as everything ended for Phillip Hughes. But the Sam Harper incident at Adelaide Oval on Saturday had some chilling parallels.
Struck by Jake Lehmann’s bat when the left-hander swung at spinner Jon Holland, it was immediately clear the young Victorian wicketkeeper was in serious trouble.
Harper collapsed next to the pitch, started vomiting and then passed out. The live feed of the game went to a wide-screen, whole-of-ground shot, the kind of thing TV producers do when there’s a streaker.
What remains unseen is often more terrifying than the truth, but the truth was Harper was very unwell. There was no way of hiding the scene from the Victorian players, the two South Australian batsmen and the umpires.
“It scared a lot of blokes on the field, and brought back some shocking memories,” one of the players told The Australian.
Lehmann was especially distressed. An early and long lunch was called after Harper was hit because the players were very upset indeed.
Little wonder: Redbacks Travis Head, Callum Ferguson, Tom Cooper, Adam Zampa and Chadd Sayers played in the game in which Hughes was hit.
The extended break fanned dark thoughts but eventually the players returned to the field with Lehmann and No 11 David Grant needing 17 runs for a first-innings lead. Aaron Finch took the gloves as he has in the past in the BBL.
Whether Lehmann’s subsequent dismissal, for 92 with SA trailing by six runs, could be attributed to his distress is unknown, but it is not too much of a leap to suggest it did.
Harper, who was wearing a helmet when he was hit, was cleared of any serious injury but the Bushrangers who visited him in hospital on Saturday night said he was still groggy.
The emerging Harper, 20, is among a string of players to be hit in the head recently.
Later on Saturday NSW’s Daniel Hughes was struck while fielding.
Victorian debutant Will Pucovski was concussed in the field against NSW last week. The blow forced him out of the current Shield game and also the Prime Minister’s XI game in Canberra on Wednesday.
NSW keeper Peter Nevill was hit in the head by Brad Hodge’s flying bat in a BBL match in Adelaide last month.
South Australian seamer Joe Mennie is still sidelined by the head injury he sustained bowling at BBL training.
Australian opener Matt Renshaw was forced out of the third Test against Pakistan after being hit twice in three days — once while batting and once while at short leg.
As you can see, there’s no pattern to the run of head injuries. The Harper and Nevill incidents were the very definition of freak occurrences.
There is a school of thought that batsmen are being hit because helmets have made them more blasé about the danger. The incidents will, however, stiffen CA’s already stiff resolve to maximise player safety.
The incident had an unsavoury postscript, which, given the fears for Harper, was small beer in comparison.
While Harper was in hospital, the opposing sides were clashing about whether the Victorians should be allowed a substitute player. A substitute — that is, a player who may bat and bowl rather than just field like a 12th man — is not permitted.
Referee Simon Taufel decided Harper’s injury was an extenuating circumstance and subsequently allowed a replacement player on one condition — both captains agreed.
The Redbacks said no.
“As far as we’re aware, the coaching staff were very strong in their opinions against having a replacement, and influenced Travis despite the wishes of a lot of the other players,” The Australian has been told.
The Bushrangers were unimpressed.
“Travis Head had a think about it and apparently there was some sort of vote in their dressing room, but the end result is we won’t be able to replace (Harper) and we’ll be playing with 10,” Bushrangers coach Andrew McDonald told ABC radio.
ALSO SEE https://cricketique.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/aussie-cricketers-duck-weave-dissimulate-at-phil-hughes-coronial-inquest/