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Tragic Death of Cricketer Serves as Reminder against Complacency

The death of the Australian batsman Phillip Hughes has shocked and saddened the world of cricket.

At age 25, Phillip had most of his life ahead of him and undoubtedly a great career which would have continued to flourish. 

As a lifelong cricketer having predominantly ignored the risks associated with the game, the sadness that this news brings resulted in my reflection this morning upon how incredibly fortunate most of us are to avoid serious injuries in our careers.

As a wicket keeper I suffered numerous injuries including broken thumbs, fingers and a fractured cheek but nothing that could be classified as serious or life threatening.

As I got older and less risk averse I started to wear my helmet standing up behind the stumps and I am pleased that that this is now compulsory in junior cricket. There used to be a macho culture whereby wearing a helmet would somehow diminish performance or detract from the skill and bravery required to catch a ball travelling at 70 mph inches from the blade of a swinging bat.

Arguably the most cerebral of all England captains Mike Brearley, wore a form of self-developed helmet in the 1970’s and well before such things were more commonplace in the game.

Michael Atherton captain for 5 years in the 90’s, made a startling but perhaps unsurprising admission this morning that he had never given any consideration in his career to changing his helmet which he wore for 10 years.

Hopefully the legacy of the shock and sadness associated with Phillip’s tragic death will serve as a reminder to be neither complacent about safety nor to simply assume that equipment worn and/or provided will protect from all eventualities.

This applies not only in the sporting world but the world of health and safety generally. Thousands of people are injured in the workplace because they have simply become complacent about the dangers involved in what they do or the machinery they work with.

This is why it is vital that health and safety legislation remains part of the workplace environment and that any attempts to further dilute the responsibilities of employers are resisted.

It does seem that the type of injury sustained by Phillip was extremely rare but it does serve as a valuable lesson to anyone who thinks they are immune to the dangers of sport, the workplace and life.

Slater and Gordon are strongly associated with the world of cricket not just because of our Australian roots, and our sympathies and condolences go out to Phillip’s family and Cricket Australia for their devastating loss.

Jonathan Belcham is an Associate Solicitor on the Personal Injury team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon is a multinational law firm with 1,450 staff in 18 offices across the UK, and 1,200 staff in 70 locations across Australia.