By Amlan Chakraborty
SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Hashmatullah Shahidi’s decision to ignore medical advice and keep batting even after being floored by a bouncer on Tuesday has prompted demands that cricketers should not be allowed to take those calls.
Shahidi was smacked flush on the side of his helmet as he took his eyes off a Mark Wood bouncer in the World Cup contest against England at Old Trafford. The impact split the helmet and sent the batsman crashing to the turf.
Medical staff attending him urged the 24-year-old to leave the ground but Shahidi ignored their advice and played on, topscoring for his side in a losing cause.
The cricketer said he disregarded medical advice and kept on batting because he did not want his mother to worry.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of brain injury association Headway, lamented the lack of understanding about the dangers of concussion.
“Players need to take the advice of doctors and adhere to the protocols, rather than follow a misguided sense of duty to their teammates which could result in a serious, possibly lifelong, injury,” he said in a statement to Reuters.
“The decision must be taken out of players’ hands. If the doctor advises the player to leave the field then they should promptly do so, there should be no debate whatsoever.
“We know that the signs and symptoms of concussion can be delayed in their presentation, which is why it is so important to take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach to head injuries.”
An International Cricket Council (ICC) spokesman told Reuters that the governing body does not have a final say in such cases.
“It’s the responsibility of each team to look after their players,” the official said.
“Every team has a nominated medical representative who decides all medical issues relating to players, including concussion.”
The governing body treats such incidents seriously and arranges pre-event concussion briefing with every team, the official added.
Earlier this month, Shahidi’s team mate Rashid Khan failed two concussion tests and could not field after being hit by a Lockie Ferguson delivery in a match against New Zealand.
HELMETS TO BLAME?
Former Australia test batsman Phillip Hughes died in 2014 after being fatally hit on the head by a bouncer in a first class match.
Concussion is a major concern in other sports as well and rugby has put in place robust guidelines to deal with head injuries.
Batsmen with superior techniques including Usman Khawaja and Hashim Amla have also suffered sickening blows to the helmet – the Australian in a warm-up match and the South African against England.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell, in a column for ESPNCricinfo website earlier this year, blamed it on the advent of helmets and how it impacted batting technique.
“Before helmets, batting technique was more inclined to the back foot,” Chappell wrote.
“Now there’s an increasing tendency to charge onto the front foot, emboldened by the impression that the chances of injury are severely reduced than in days past.
“This change in attitude makes it harder to evade short-pitched deliveries, and this is exacerbated if the batsman takes his eyes off the ball.”
Chappell reckoned modern batsmen, lulled into a sense of safety by the protective gears, do not follow the ball closely enough.
“Before helmets, fewer players were hit in the head, because they had an interest in avoiding contact: it was going to hurt. Therefore they tended to watch the ball closely to make sure they didn’t get hit.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)