The death of Phillip Hughes has naturally and inevitably involved warnings and misgivings about bouncers in cricket, but more for the players than the spectators.
While we are playing again, as Malcolm Knox wrote in The Age, “Some players will never rediscover their zest”. I, too, was unsure whether I would ever rediscover my zest for the game after the Hughes tragedy. For more than three decades I have attended Boxing Day tests, innumerable ODIs and been attached to my TV for interstate games. Summer means cricket as much as winter means football.
I have always winced uncomfortably when batsmen are hit by a ball. I also recoil in fear when players are concussed at football matches and are carried off. I was this week left questioning whether I would be able to watch the game with the same fervor and delight.
Still, risk is an integral and intangible aspect of life and maybe that risk is perhaps, unconsciously, what I love watching in sport. I missed the opening overs of the first day of play at the Adelaide Test, turning on the TV just before lunch to see not just the game but how I would feel. Interestingly, I was thinking about Hughes’ passing but I watched for a couple of hours with that awareness increasingly sliding into the back of my mind. It was enjoyment as usual. The players also seemed back to their old selves.
Of course, some people take greater risks than most of us would ever contemplate, like the daredevils in formula one who race at speeds I find truly terrifying. Fear itself can be fleeting when their is genuine joy at playing the game.
Grief, too, fades. I can only endorse the action of David Warner when he walked off the ground after making 145 by holding his bat to the heavens. Rest in peace Phillip Hughes.