The terrible injury to Phillip Hughes gives some small insight to the hidden game of cricket.
Cricket is seen so often seen as played in a village green. Players just seem to be standing around suspended in a state of ennui. Then the spell is broken. The quiet tap of bat and ball followed by quiet applause.
Or cricket too is seen as baseball on steroids. Our radio and TV is so dominated by the hit-a-thon of T20 or one-day cricket or even indoor cricket. All we see is an action packed blur of players bowling, batting, catching, throwing and running.
Or cricket too is seen through the lens of Test cricket the ultimate physical and psychological long march.
Yet the Phillip Hughes incident as revealed by Malcolm Knox shows cricket has its hidden physical dangers. As anyone who has played the game even casually knows, even a tennis ball hurts and leaves its mark. And even despite the improved protective equipment, players still get hurt.
As Russell Jackson mentions, there’s a psychological impact. Perhaps this thought experiment may suffice.
Imagine someone gives you a piece of wood or a stick. Then he or she runs about 30 or 40 or 50 metres away. Then they run towards you. At about 20 metres they throw a ball at you. You’re meant to hit the ball and not let it hit you.
In essence and in spite of physical and mental fitness, technique and judgement, protective equipment or rules, cricket is a scary game.
One false move and you’re out or hurt or worse.
The hidden game of cricket is to accept the risk and setbacks and continue to play on. Knowing full well what happened before or could happen again.
Which is why Phillip Hughes is braver than you’ll ever know.
My sincere wish as a former player of virtually no note is that he recovers quickly and returns to the game. And be courageous than he was before because he will have to.
And continue to play the hidden game of cricket.