Player safety priority in Aust cricket

Concussion and it’s after effects are key health issues across all sports, but in cricket any head knock is bound to receive extra attention.

Phillip Hughes’s tragic death last summer after being struck by a cricket ball during a Sheffield Shield clash touched every cricketer across the globe.

That tragedy and the incident which left Chris Rogers with concussion during a net session in the Caribbean on Monday hardly seem comparable.

And yet, the total acceptance of doctor Peter Brukner’s decision to rule the veteran opener out of the first Test against the West Indies reflects a team that knows only too well when some things are no longer worth the risk.

It’s understood Rogers is the first Australian cricketer to miss a Test under new concussion guidelines.

After being caught on the temple by a delivery from a local net bowler during training on Monday, Rogers initially batted on but later reported symptoms of concussion including dizziness and headaches.

Those symptoms carried over into Tuesday and, while Rogers himself pleaded to play, Brukner’s decision was final.

Brukner was one of the many at Cricket Australia who manfully dealt with Hughes’s death in the public eye and has been a long-time advocate for the correct handling of head injuries such as concussion in sport.

The changing attitudes in cricket were evident when NSW cricketer Daniel Hughes was sidelined for a short period after he was knocked out during a grade game in Sydney in January.

Captain Michael Clarke said there was no doubt the right call had been made.

“As hard as it is on Chris, I think credit needs to go to Peter Brukner, our team doctor,” captain Michael Clarke said.

“He’s an expert in this field and he believes Chris has those symptoms and it wouldn’t be smart for him to take the field.

“At the end of the day I’d rather see the health and safety of the individual come first and foremost, and in this case that’s exactly what we’re doing and I think it’s a really smart decision.”

It’s also likely a famous anecdote from cricket’s recent past wouldn’t have occurred if it had happened now.

Justin Langer was warned he risked death if he returned to play after being hit on the head by South African quick Makhaya Ntini during his 100th Test in 2006.

Despite days of severe symptoms of concussion such as vomiting and headaches, Langer was still trying to convince captain Ricky Ponting he could play if needed before Australia managed to wrap up a win without the opener’s return.

In 2015 it’s likely Langer wouldn’t have even had the option to make the call himself.

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