Cricket has learned its lessons since the tragic death of Philip Hughes three years ago. The Australian batsman died three days after being struck on the head by a Sean Abbott bouncer during a Sheffield Shield game between South Australia and New South Wales. Since the heartbreaking death of the promising batsman, the umpires are now not taking any chances relating to head and neck injuries.
In the third over after Lunch on Day 1 in the India-Sri Lanka Delhi Test, M Vijay swept a Dilruwan Perera delivery straight into the helmet grill of Sadeera Samarawickrama, who was fielding at short leg. The 22-year-old looked fine after the blow and started fielding at mid-on in Suranga Lakmal’s next over.
Two balls into Lakmal’s over, umpire Nigel Llong went to speak to Samarawickrama and then called up the Sri Lankan physiotherapist Nirmalan Dhanabalasingham onto the field. After a brief observation, he was taken off the field.
“The umpires have been advised by the ICC to be vigilant and advice the players to consult doctors which are always available at the venues during matches. One of the requirements of international venues is to have proper medical facilities,” an ICC spokesman told Cricbuzz.
After the medical examination at the ground by doctors, Samarawickrama was taken for a CT scan. The medical advice was for him to be rested for the remaining of the day’s play and make a call on his availability on the morning of day two.
Before play resumed on the second day, Samarawickrama complained of mild concussion and the doctors ruled him out for the entire day’s play. India declared their first innings on 536 for 7. Samarawickrama wasn’t available to open the innings and instead off-spinner Dilruwan Perera opened the innings with Dimuth Karunaratne.
Sri Lanka’s team manager Asanka Gurusinha told Cricbuzz that Samarawickrama will be examined again by a doctor ahead of third day’s play before a call is made whether he can take further part in the game.
In Cricket Australia’s playing conditions, a separate chapter has been dedicated to Concussion and Head Trauma. The playing conditions allow a concussion substitute in Sheffield Shield and other cricket matches that come under the purview of Cricket Australia. The new addition to the playing conditions was done in September this year and came into effect from the current season.
“Australian Cricket considers it critical to pursue best practice in prevention and management of concussion and head trauma arising in the course of participating in Cricket Australian sanctioned competitions and training sessions,” the playing conditions state.
Furthermore, Cricket Australia disallows a player, who has been hit on the head or neck, from returning to play on the same day. After concussion diagnosis, a player is prevented from playing for a further 24 hours before another evaluation is done by medical experts on the player.