Cricket has never been safer, says Andrew Strauss

"I would hate to see a situation where bowlers can't bowl short balls"

“I would hate to see a situation where bowlers can’t bowl short balls”

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Former England captain Andrew Strauss believes that the game of cricket has never been safer, despite the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes.

Hughes passed away at the age of 25 when he was struck on the side of the neck by a bouncer from New South Wales pace bowler Sean Abbott.

“The protection in the game of cricket has never been better than it is today,” Strauss told Sky Sports. “I don’t think any cricketer will go out there to bat these days worrying that his life might be on the line. I think that used to take place in the old days pre-helmet but these days it doesn’t happen.

“I think it’s really important we investigate this fully and see what can be done but I would hate to see a situation where bowlers can’t bowl short balls. That is the element of bat versus ball and if you lose that I think it shifts the balance too firmly in the favour of the batsman.

“Let’s look if we can do anything more on the protection side. I don’t know the full details of it, but it sounds like Hughes got hit on the neck, which is not usually a particularly dangerous place to get hit.

“I’ve been hit on the neck a number of times – I can remember twice by Brett Lee in the same Test match – so whether this is just one of those freak, tragic accidents or not remains to be seen.”

Ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain believes that helmets have to be modified to the point where they protect the batsman in all situations.

“You have to think about ways of improving the helmet all the time, balancing protection with being able to move and see the ball,” he said. “Putting bits on the neck…is an area we’ve never thought about. We were always told to protect the temple but were never really concerned about the neck.

“The instinct to get out of the way of a bouncer is to turn away – this will send shock waves through every cricketer.”

However, former England pace bowler Matthew Hoggard disagreed with Hussain’s comments, saying: “I would hate to see the game of cricket change because of this tragic accident. Yes, we can have a look at the safety procedures and safety elements but when you go back in time when people didn’t wear helmets, facing the likes of [Dennis] Lillee and [Jeff] Thompson, we didn’t see a tragic accident.

“I think the game of cricket is in a good place so hopefully our thoughts don’t change too much about the game. I think we need to take stock and have a look throughout history at how well the protective gear has worked and put it down as a tragic accident.”

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