The events that culminated in the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes almost six months ago will be examined in an independent review that has been commissioned by Cricket Australia.
CA Chief Executive James Sutherland announced today that the review, which has the support of Hughes’s family and in which participation by players and CA staff is optional, will be chaired by Melbourne-based barrister Mr David Curtain QC.
Curtain is a former Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council and President of the Australian Bar Association.
It will focus on the cause and circumstances of Hughes’s death in November last year and will make recommendations for future tournaments, competitions, matches and official training sessions conducted under the auspices of CA.
Among the terms of reference for the review, which is expected to deliver its findings prior to the start of the 2015-16 Australian season, will be an examination of CA’s approach to the medical screening of its contracted players with a focus on those with specific, identifiable vulnerabilities.
“When this (Phillip Hughes) tragedy happened, I said that it was a freak accident, but it was one freak accident too many,” Sutherland said today.
“Never again do we want to see something like that happen on a cricket field.
“We have a deep responsibility and obligation to look into the events of that awful day to understand everything that occurred and then see what could be done to prevent a similar accident happening in the future.
“This is not an exercise designed to apportion blame on any individual for what took place.
“It is about making sure that as a sport we are doing everything in our power to prevent an accident of this nature happening again.
“There were certain measures put in place soon after Phillip’s passing such as increasing the medical presence at all CA matches and working very closely with our helmet supplier to investigate the suitability of protective head equipment offered to all players.
“This review will help determine whether we need to implement further measures before the 2015-16 season.”
Hughes, 25, died in Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital on November 27, two days after he was struck on the neck by the ball while attempting to pull a short-pitched delivery when batting for South Australia in a Bupa Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales at the SCG.
The impact, which came below the base of the protective batting helmet he was wearing at the time, crushed the batsman’s vertebral artery and caused it to split which resulted in extensive bleeding to his brain.
Australia team doctor Peter Brukner, who remained at Hughes’s bedside throughout the two days he spent in the Intensive Care Unit during which he did not regain consciousness, described the injury as one rarely seen by hospital trauma teams.
Less than 100 similar cases had been recorded in medical literature, with only one of those previously inflicted by a cricket ball, Dr Brukner said at the time.
In acknowledging that the revisiting of the incident that rocked Australian cricket and led to a widespread outpouring of grief around the world had the potential to traumatise those asked to relive it, Sutherland said it was vital to learn the lessons of the unprecedented tragedy.
The review will be charged with examining and reporting on the following items:
- The causes and circumstances which led to the injury and ultimate death of Phillip Hughes
- The policies, practices or systems in place to prevent a similar accident from occurring including those in relation to the prevention of traumatic injuries to the head and heart
- Cricket Australia’s approach to mandating, and enforcing the use and wearing of personal protective equipment in order to protect the head and heart
- Cricket Australia’s approach to the provision and use of cricket helmets, including consideration of helmet certification standards and suitability
- Cricket Australia’s approach to the medical screening of contracted players – especially those players with particular vulnerabilities
- Cricket Australia’s approach to the provision of a safe working environment at venues for both matches and training, including management of participants who suffer (or may be perceived to have suffered) head and heart injuries, and specifically the extent and appropriateness of CA’s concussion and head trauma policy and reporting mechanisms
- The extent and appropriateness of the medical support and coverage afforded to players and on-field support staff, including match officials, at matches and training.
Sutherland said the review would not investigate the laws of cricket and playing regulations unless they specifically related to protective equipment or to the management of participants who suffer head or heart injuries.