Cricket closes ranks to support Sean Abbott
SYDNEY (AP) — Phillip Hughes’ sister has joined in an outpouring of support for young fast bowler Sean Abbott, who unleashed the delivery which felled the Australian cricket star three days ago.
Former test fast bowler Jason Gillespie told Australia’s Fox Sports on Friday the 22-year-old Abbott was “absolutely shaken and broken at the moment” as he dealt with the tragic accident which ended Hughes’ life. His fateful “bouncer” was the kind of short-pitch delivery that gets bowled dozens of times in every senior match, usually without any problems.
Abbott visited the Sydney hospital where Hughes died Thursday and was comforted by Australia captain Michael Clarke and Hughes’ sister, Megan.
Cricket Australia on Friday pledged continuing support for Abbott as cricketers around the world offered sympathy and encouragement for the young paceman.
“I had a chat to him last night and I was incredibly impressed by the way he was holding himself and his maturity,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Friday. “But the point is this not a moment-in-time thing. This is a grieving process that will affect people in different ways. What we will do and the relevant experts will do is provide Sean with the support he needs.”
The Australian Cricket Players’ Association said Abbott was being counseled and closely monitored.
“He has got a lot of support around him from his teammates and also the counseling services,” ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said. “He’s someone who we’re monitoring closely and we know he’s got a lot of support around him.”
Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said Clarke had spent a significant amount of time with Abbott at Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Hospital on Thursday.
“Phillip’s sister, Megan, also came and spent significant time with Sean,” Brukner said. “Obviously what Sean has gone through is an incredibly traumatic experience, as it has been for everyone present on the field that day.”
Former Australia fast bowler Stuart Clark took time to speak to Abbott.
“It will be the hardest for him when it’s quiet and there’s nothing happening,” Clarke told Australia’s Sky Sports Radio. “When he’s sitting at home at night before he goes to bed. That’s, I think, when the thoughts will start recurring in his mind.”
“You worry that this could jeopardize Sean Abbott and his cricket career and we don’t want that.”
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor said Abbott should bear no responsibility for Hughes’ death but would likely struggle with a sense of guilt.
“He’s got no questions to answer but I’m sure he’ll be feeling some guilt and probably will be for a long time,” Taylor said. “I really hope Sean can get over it and we one day see Sean back playing for New South Wales and maybe Australia.”
Abbott received particular support from former fast bowlers who had experience of striking and injuring a batsman.
Alan Mullally, who seriously injured a batsman during a club match in Perth, said he had sleepless nights for months after.
“I would wake up crying,” Mullally told The West Australian newspaper. “I was devastated at first because I didn’t know if he was going to live and then I was devastated because I did know that I had ended his career and all his cricket hopes and dreams.”
England fast bowler Peter Lever recalled his horror when he struck New Zealand tailender Ewen Chatfield with a bouncer in a test at Wellington in 1975. Chatfield’s heart stopped beating and he swallowed his tongue but was revived, recovered and went on to have a long test career.
In a post on The Guardian website, Lever said when he heard the news of Hughes’ death, he thought of the batsman and the bowler.
“I suppose now I’m as qualified as anybody to know what this young fellow Abbott is feeling today and it just numbed me,” he said. “You cannot describe it, and it’s worse for the lad.”