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Former England captain Michael Atherton has announced that Australia batsman Phillip Hughes “was a fascinating player to watch”.
Atherton’s tribute comes after Hughes passed away when struck on the side of the head by a bouncer from New South Wales pace bowler Sean Abbott.
“He was a fascinating player to watch,” Atherton told Sky Sports. “A kind of classic Aussie batsman from the Outback really, with a rustic technique but with a desire to hit the ball and play aggressively.
“I always enjoyed watching him play and it’s desperate news to wake up to this morning.
“It will take time (for Australia to recover). There will be counselling on hand for team-mates, and spare a thought for Sean Abbott in all this as he will be feeling desperate.
“It’s a fairly small cricket community in Australia – we have 18 counties over here but they have only seven state teams with quite a lot of movement. Phillip himself moved from New South Wales to South Australia so it’s a tight-knit community.
“Just looking at the comments yesterday and this morning gives you an idea of the type of bloke he was thought of in Australia.”
While many people are still mourning over the tragedy, Atherton believes that it is only a matter of time before the topic of player safety becomes a major issue.
“That (safety) will be the focus in the coming days but I suppose the first thing to say is that it’s an incredibly safe game,” he said. “That might sound an odd thing to say when a young man has died on the field but fundamentally it’s a safe game.
“Obviously players take precautions but what I think it will do is shake batsmen in particular out of what might have been complacency.
“Myself, I wore the same helmet for 10 years and if I got clonked on it, I didn’t change it. I know the manufacturers say you must but I never did. I didn’t give the helmet much thought really.
“If there is that kind of complacency people will shaken out of that. I speak as the father of a 12-year-old boy and I will be making sure his helmet is top notch, up to scratch and the top model. But fundamentally it’s a safe game with risk attached, as there is in anything you do in life.”