On Target
December 5, 2014
A teachable moment

The sporting tragedy which rocked the world just over a week ago – the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes – was indeed a sad moment.

But he has been mourned for; there have been numerous tributes, posthumous acclamations, along with a touching funeral service with all the trappings to go with it.{{more}}

These are all history, moments which would soon vanish into the annals of our memory, but life goes on.

However, while it was a case for universal sympathy, it must be a teachable moment for us here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Reactionary as it may well appear to be, the freak accident, as Hughes’ misfortune may be calculated, caused everyone to stop and reassess what actually took place.

Whilst we have not endured such an occurrence on our cricket fields, we are not immune to such a situation.

Thus, the reality is we have not put in place the simplest of precautionary measures for the protection of our young cricketers, especially in the secondary schools’ competition.

Danger exists in every sport, but with very little preparation of our young players in that annual schools’ competition, that danger magnifies.

Therefore, the demise of Hughes should eternally prick those who administrate this competition; should this be used as both a teachable moment and a time for the instituting of protective practices?

It is normal practice to have the players bat without helmets.

More so, it is common knowledge that many of the players who participate in this competition are basically there to complement those who have some abilities for the sport.

Additionally, matches are played on unprepared pitches or worn pitches, which have been used for the national competitions, the day or days prior.

A regular sight is to have bowlers (many of them pelting) without much intervention by the umpires, as things are left to slide, because of an already devalued insignificance attached to the competition.

Mercies have guarded our young cricketers over the years and no serious injury has visited any one of them.

It may be pertinent now that it should be made mandatory that all players bat in helmets and other protective gear.

Likewise, the authorities who organize this competition should also ensure the presence of at least a well-equipped first aid kit to deal with injuries such as minor abrasions.

This may be also necessary at this juncture, as there are talks that primary schools’ cricket should be back on the calendar of the sporting events of the educational institutions.

Although the focus here is on the schools’ competition, similar judicious undertakings may be necessary, even at the local senior competitions.

The time may be ripe for our local batsmen to relook the way they play the short ball, as many are deficient in this regard.

There is enough evidence to suggest that many batsmen close their eyes at the point of impact, even when playing normal shots on the ground.

Also, many pay minimal attention to their own safety.

Yes, they are adults and are responsible for their own well-being, but the enforcement of protective gear can be ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ moment.

As Vincentians, we tend to become agitated and concerned when matters such as the Phillip Hughes incident occur, then go back to normal after nine days.

But let this be a teachable moment, especially in cricket, but it can be extended to other sporting disciplines, as efforts are made to reduce the incidence of injuries.