Phil Hughes and 10 other batsmen who were felled by vicious bouncers

Phillip Hughes was hit on the head during a Shield game between New South Wales and South Australia on November 25, 2014. Such was the blow that Hughes collapsed to the ground and had to have an emergency surgery. Cricket has seen a few batsmen who have dealt with sickening blows. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about 11 batsmen who suffered horrific injuries while batting:

1. Bert Oldfield, Australia vs England at the Adelaide Oval, January 1933


This incident blooded in a lot of acrimony between the two sides as England skipper Douglas Jardine relentlessly pursued the controversial Bodyline tactics. Earlier in the game, Bill Woodfull was hit in the chest by Harold Larwood, Jardine’s main weapon in the Bodyline series. Bert Oldfield, the Australian wicketkeeper, was batting on 41 with Australia on 218 for seven, in pursuit of England’s first innings total of 341. Larwood bowled a bounced after Oldfield had hit him for a four. The ball hit his glove and went on to smash his temple.

2. Nari Contractor, Barbados vs Indians at Kensington Oval, 1962

Charlie Griffith was known to scare batsmen with his raw pace and the word had reached the Indian camp when they arrived on Caribbean shores in 1962. Nari Contractor, the Indian captain, decided to open the batting in a tour game against Barbados. Griffith had the new ball in hand and had dismissed Dilip Sardesai. Contractor had something much worse in store as a Griffith thunderbolt hit him on the head. The Indian captain was in critical condition and battled for his life post surgery. Fellow players from both sides donated blood for the procedure. Contractor recovered, but never played for India again.

3. Terry Jenner, Australia vs England at Sydney Cricket Ground, 1971


Australia had taken a slender lead in the first innings at Sydney. Terry Jenner, playing his second Test, was in the middle as England captain Ray Illingworth brought men in around the bat. John Snow bowled a vicious bouncer that struck Jenner on the head as he tried to duck out of its way. The batsman retired hurt. The incident, however, caused much acrimony as Illingworth had an argument with the umpire, who had warned Snow. Later, a member of the crowd manhandled Snow on the boundary. Jenner did return to bat and scored 30.

4. Ewen Chatfield, New Zealand vs England at Eden Park, Auckland, 1975

What a scary way to begin your Test career! In his very first Test, New Zealand’s Ewen Chatfield had a brush with death when a bouncer from Peter Lever hit him on the temple. New Zealand were following on after they were bowled out got 326 against England’s first innings total of 593. In the second innings, Chatfield walked out as the last man, with New Zealand facing defeat. As he frustrated the English bowlers, Lever sent down a barrage of bouncers, aimed at his gloves. However, one of them deflected off the gloves and hit his temple. Such was the impact of the blow that Chatfield had swallowed his tongue and was clinically dead for a while. Yes, his heart had stopped beating. The MCC physio revived Chatfield after giving him mouth-to-mouth resurrection and a heart massage. This was perhaps the most horrific case in Test cricket.

5. Andy Lloyd, England vs West Indies at Edgbaston, Birmingham, 1984

Talk about misfortune! Lloyd made it into the England team in 1984 after seven years of toil at the domestic level. Little did he know that his Test career was to be fleeting. Up against the fearsome West Indian pace attack on Test debut at Edgbaston, Lloyd worked his way to 10 when Malcolm Marshall felled him with a bouncer. It hit him on his ear and forced him to retire. Lloyd played no further part in the game as he had a concussion. That remained his only Test outing, and to date, he is the only player to open the batting and not be dismissed in his career.

6. Mike Gatting, West Indies vs England at Kingston, Jamaica, 1986

Another one on Marshall’s list! England dealt a blow in their first game on tour to West Indies in 1986 as Mike Gatting was hit on the face by Marshall. In the first One-Day International (ODI) at Kingston, Gatting was hit by a ‘perfume ball’ which smashed his nose and went onto the stumps. Such was the blow that a fragment of Gatting’s bone was found on the ball. The England batsman had to fly back home for treatment.

7. Anil Kumble, West Indies vs India at St John’s, Antigua, 2002


Runs aplenty at Antigua as the fourth Test between India and the West Indies meandered towards a draw. As India kept piling the runs, Anil Kumble tried to add to his own tally. However, Mervyn Dillon hit his jaw with a bouncer. In a lot of pain, the leg-spinner took his helmet off, spat out blood, wiped himself and continued to bat. The doctors detected a fracture in his jaw, but that did not stop him from taking the field. Showing the typical ‘Jumbo’ character, Kumble came out to bowl with a bandage around his face and dismissed the dangerous Brian Lara.

8. Alex Tudor, Australia vs England at the WACA, Perth, 2002

Nothing went right for England on this Ashes tour as they slumped a heavy defeat after another. As Australia continued to dominate in the third Test at Perth, Brett Lee inflicted more damage in the English ranks by injuring Alex Tudor. The English tailender was surprised by a Lee bouncer. He was too late to get out of the way and was hit smack on the grill of the helmet. Wincing in pain, Tudor moved away from the wicket and took his helmet off as all players gathered around him. For a moment it looked horrific. Tudor was fortunate as he only needed a few stitches and endured a headache.

9. Mark Vermeulen, Zimbabwe vs India at the Gabba, Brisbane, 2004

In a tri-series game between Zimbabwe and India in Brisbane, Mark Vermeulen was hit by a bouncer by Irfan Pathan. The Indian left-armer bowled at a decent pace and this ball skidded off the surface, took the top-edge and went through the gap between Vermeulen’s grill and visor. With a bloodied wound over the right eye, Vermeulen retired hurt and needed surgery to his face. It is said that this blow shattered his career. In the years ahead, he went through trouble times and was even tried for arson. It was in 2014 that he managed to get his act together and make a comeback in international cricket.

10. Craig Cumming, South Africa vs New Zealand at Centurion, Pretoria, 2007

Dale Steyn was still an upcoming fast bowler when New Zealand toured South Africa in 2007. In the second Test at Centurion, Steyn surprised New Zealand opening batsman Craig Cumming with a short ball that pinned him on the side of the helmet. Cumming had shaped to hook the ball but missed the rapid delivery. He retired hurt on 48 and only made a handful of appearances for New Zealand after the incident.

11. Phil Hughes, New South Wales vs South Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, 2014

With a spot up for grabs in the first Test against India at Brisbane, Phil Hughes took strike for South Australia in a Shield game against his former team New South Wales. He worked his way to 63 not out before a bouncer from the young Sean Abbott hit him on the side of the head. Hughes looked shocked and within seconds, collapsed to the ground face-on. The game was abandoned and a helicopter flew in to take him to hospital. David Warner, his Australia teammate and friend, was sitting next to him as they stretchered him off. Later in the day, he had a surgery.

Hughes further went into coma and after two days of battle for his life, he took his last breath  and shook the cricket world with his sudden death. 

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)