The tragic death of Phillip Hughes has naturally and inevitably involved warnings and misgivings about bouncers in cricket; but more for the players than the spectators in the public arena. As a cricket fan, I can add nothing more to the tributes to Hughes that have flowed from around the world, and as writer Malcolm Knox penned, can only hope that Australian cricket may ‘soon resemble its old self...’. ‘But’ Knox added ‘some players will never rediscover their zest”. Certainly, I feel great empathy for the players as they have since articulated their anxieties and fears about not just bowling bouncers, but facing them with a bat. However, I too am unsure whether I will 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 screen for games played interstate. Summer means cricket as much as winter means football to me. And I love both games as a spectator, but unlike Martin Flanagan, who acknowledged ‘part of the reason I watch sport is because that possibility (of batsmen being struck by fast bowlers) exists’, I have always winced uncomfortably when batsmen are hit by a ball. I also recoil in fear when players are concussed at football matches, carried off and often appearing almost dead. I can only surmise that I’m not the only passionate supporter of cricket and football who holds my breath in trepidation when the cricket ball is hurled at 140kph plus at a vulnerable batsmen or when footballers crash into each other accidentally in pursuit of the Sherrin. Since Hughes’ untimely passing, I have shed tears watching Michael Clarke’s grief, read with incredulous surprise at Shane Watson’s admission of fear and listened to Mitchell Johnson wonder if all the players are indeed able to return to their old selves out on the pitch. I am left questioning whether I will be able to watch the game with the same fervour and delight I have enjoyed most of my life, and that now applies to football, too. Will I simply turn away at the sight of a bouncer and/or evoke a blessing that the batsman is still standing afterwards? Will I ever forget what’s happened? My mental appeal to rational argument that it was a freak accident falls on my own deaf ears albeit before the start of the Adelaide Test, but as Flanagan also wrote: “I would argue that risk is an essential ingredient of Test cricket”, I would add furthermore : all contact team sports. Maybe too, risk is an integral and intangible aspect of how most of us mere mortals live our lives, whether it is driving a car on an ordinary suburban street, travelling on a Jumbo jet across mountainous terrain, the deepest oceans or above a war zone or simply working each day on a factory floor with complex heavy machinery. Of course, some people take greater risks than most of us would ever contemplate such as American Nik Wallenda who embarked on a high wire walk across a Grand Canyon area gorge in 2013 and lived to tell the tale or the daredevils in Formula One who race at speeds I find truly terrifying. Football commentators often applaud the courage of players who constantly put their bodies (lives, too?) on the line and there are many individuals who perhaps more literally than footballers, put their lives on the line beyond sport. But is it that risk taking I perhaps unconsciously love watching in sport? The reality is that football and cricket are intrinsically scary in one perspective, but watching it so often I switch off from their potential dangers, focusing instead on the excitement and enjoyment I’m deriving at the time. But then, something might happen that suddenly jolts me out of my unconscious complacency; a cricketer is felled by a ball in the ribs or a footballer is felled by a perfectly innocent tackle. The pertinent issue has always been that within a few minutes, play usually resumes as normal. Will that now occur after such a fatality on a cricket field? I’ve never really considered this before the Hughes tragedy, but Flanagan and Knox have both made me realise the undercurrents of risk in contact sports that as spectators we are usually oblivious to. We may at times discuss the perils of concussion in football among other things and we may feel empathy for the cricketer forced to retire hurt after being struck badly by a bouncer, but once the moment of injury has passed, it is apparently forgotten apart from media updates about how serious the injury is. 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’ tragic 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, and how the players might have felt I can only conjecture. It did seem they were back to their old selves. I just hope that those involved in all contact sports can do the same when they’re out there enthralling us with their magical physical feats with a bat and/or a ball of whatever shape and hardness. Fear itself can indeed at times be fleeting when genuine joy at playing the game or watching the game surpasses the conscious courage of taking a risk! Grief too can be fleeting at times, but is far more lasting however its intensity might wane and 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.