Shane Watson feared facing fast bowling after Phil Hughes’s death

Australian cricketer Shane Watson’s teammate Phil Hughes died after being hit on the head by a Sean Abbott bouncer back in 2014

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2018 16:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Phil Hughes,Phil Hughes death,Shane Watson
Shane Watson (right) and Phil Hughes were not only Australia cricket teammates but also very close friends, and the untimely death of Hughes while batting in the middle, left Watson scarred. (Getty Images)

Former Australia cricket team captain Shane Watson admitted that following the untimely death of Phil Hughes in 2014, it became difficult for him as a batsman to face fast bowling since a sense of fear gripped him following the freak accident.

Hughes, who was once tipped by Michael Clarke to become a 100-Test cricketer owing to his exponential rise in international cricket, was batting in a Sheffield Shield match when he was struck on the head by a Sean Abbott bouncer. He succumbed to his injuries later, dying at the age of 25.

“I didn’t have fear, honestly, up until Phil Hughes got killed. Fast bowling was always my strength ... I was fielding at first slip when Phil got hit, so it wasn’t until that moment that fear came into my game massively, and that was one of the reasons why against fast bowling in my career, in my performance with the bat started to really dive, because I had no idea how to deal with it,” Watson was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald in Mark Howard’s sports podcast The Howie Games.

Watson represented the country in 59 Tests, 190 ODIs and 58 T20Is. However, as he claims, his run-scoring abilities did take a hit after the unfortunate incident. In the seven Tests he played after Phil Hughes passed away, Watson managed to score just 323 runs, including two half-centuries at an average of 26.91.

“The innocence of the game of cricket went immediately,” Watson said. “I always knew that you could get hurt of course ... if a ball went through my helmet I could fracture my face or my eye socket or jaw or whatever it was but never ever contemplated that you could actually get killed.

“I had a two-year-old son at that stage. Will was two and just the thought that went through and continued to go through my mind for a long period of time, was ‘what if that was me?’. Like what happens to my family, not just my mum and dad, but my wife and my son,” added Watson.

The allrounder went on to retire from all formats of the game in 2016 after the end of the 2016 ICC World T20.

“That’s where, subconsciously, the fear just continued to be there for a long period of time. Until I actually really understood how to deal with it. To be able to one, talk about it as a starting point, because I could not talk about it if anyone ever bought it up or anything I just shut it down,” added Watson.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 14:58 IST