Vale Phillip Hughes.
I don't want to sound disrespectful, considering the circumstances of his demise, but I do want to try and put things in perspective, even if it is just for my benefit. I seem to hear a lot about the tragedy that is his death, how he was struck on the head by a rising delivery which brought about his untimely death during a first class match. There seems to be no end of tributes for the sportsman, with audiences at every A-League match applauding at the 63rd minute of games (the number of runs Hughes was on when he was struck), to footballers dedicating goals and walking onto the pitch with cricket bats, to even the little memorial which I snapped at the greyhound race meeting at Wentworth Park on Saturday evening (29/11). (I should add, I was there for a Blood Bowl tournament that was being played in the offices at the back of the main stand, but that's another story for another blog.) I even read that his one day shirt number is being retired, that his final innings reads "not out" in the scoresheet rather than "retired hurt", and that the Brisbane test, scheduled for this week, has been moved to accommodate players attending the funeral, and the first test against India will be the Adelaide match next week.
But there are plenty of things that I really want to put into perspective, which I feel have been neglected by the Australian media. The last time I saw such an avalanche of media coverage, was for the death of former prime minister Gough Whitlam a few months ago. Gough, it could be argued, was Australia's finest prime minister, and did a lot in his time in office. Hughes wasn't even in the Australian side, but was pressing for re-selection. Anyway...
- Phil Hughes isn't the only cricketer who has died as a result at being struck by a cricket ball. A quick google search using the phrase “cricketers that died during games” should result in the first link (when I started writing this on Nov 30) to an item with a poorly worded bi-line (and written in bad English as well) that lists a few other cricketers that have died after being struck by a ball, with possibly the earliest instance being recorded in 1870, which, by the way, was an English gent by the name of George Summers. Just a couple of days ago, an umpire died in a cricket match in Israel (which adds testimony to the universal appeal of the game) after being struck by a ball. (I should point out, yesterday's edition of the SMH had four pages dedicated to Phil Hughes. The Israeli umpire got a paragraph. So, was his death less tragic? Was he getting similar coverage in the Middle Eastern media?) The above list gets expanded on in an English article which includes players dying of heart-attacks as well. I even went further to find a really bizarre cricket death back which was reported on in November 1933, where a young wicket-keeper in India was impaled by a spinning cricket stump and died of his injury. And then there's this instance of a cricketer being struck by lightning during a game in Australia and dying.
- Phil Hughes isn't the only sports-person to have died as a result of participating in sport. Two big sporting names instantly spring to mind - Ayrton Senna and Peter Brock, and it isn't that hard to find others from different sporting codes. That link just leads to the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Jockeys have died falling from horses in races in this country this year. Yachtsmen participating in the annual Sydney to Hobart race have drowned in past events. True, one would expect more fatalities in sports like motor racing or boxing, but the truth of the matter is, all sport has a degree of risk to one's health, you play it at your own risk, and that risk can be, well, fatal. Players can die from a variety of things on the pitch, indoors, in the air, in the sky, or even at the hands of the spectators themselves. These things can happen. Yes, the last thing that Phil Hughes was probably thinking of when he was batting was being mortally wounded by a bouncer, but I can also say the last thing George Summers, the Israeli umpire, the young Indian player, etc. were thinking of before they died as well was that they would be slain as a direct result of playing in or officiating a cricket match.
- Phil Hughes death isn't the most tragic thing to ever happen in sport. There was a comment made on a sports show I was watching on Sunday night that prompted me to do this little bit of searching. A little brainstorming and I can easily come up with a few sporting stories which are a lot more tragic than Phil Hughes' death.
- Andres Escobar. In the 1994 World Cup, the Colombian footballer inexplicably put the ball into the wrong net during a match against hosts USA, who went on to win the match 2-1. A few days after Colombia's elimination from the tournament (they finished last in their group), Andres and a few mates decide to go out for a few drinks. The end result being that the footballer gets shot six times at a nightclub and dies. Naturally, all this is linked to the drug cartels.
- The Death Match. Escape to Victory eat your heart out. In August 1942, a football match between a local side in Kiev, and a German military side, was played, with the locals humiliating the occupiers with a 5-3 victory. Rumours abound to what actually happened to the players after the match, with members of the team allegedly being shot by the SS, imprisoned in concentration camps, or even being arrested after the war for collaborating with the Germans.
- Disaster in Munich. In February 1958, Manchester United, on their way home after playing a match against Red Star Belgrade, landed in Munich to refuel. In poor weather, their plane crashed on their third attempt at taking off, with 21 people dying, including eight players of the squad at the time and three members of the coaching staff.
- Phar Lap. Need I say more about the champion racehorse that dies in mysterious circumstances in the United States after a race?
- Weren't there more important things happening in the world on November 27? Renowned author P D James died, there were heavy floods on the Gaza strip, a suicide bomber killed 5 in Kabul, a roadside bomb killed 40 in Nigeria, the Hong Kong protests continued with police and demonstrators clashing and 11 more arrests, the Greek labour unions declared a general strike, France hit a record high for unemployment figures, the European Union passed a (symbolic) motion for the break-up of Google, fighting in the Sudan claimed at least 133 lives, Kim Jong-Un appointed his sister Kim Yo Jong to a ministerial position, Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmour won her 6th women's world surfing title and of course, there was also the on-going Ebola crisis as well.
- And finally, what about the player who bowled the lethal delivery? I look through the Monday edition of the SMH and see no mention of Sean Abbott, the player who is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life. I look on the ABC on-line news page and see just one link to an article about how he is faring. In my FB feeds, I have seen just one post dedicated to the bowler. One wonders if he'll ever set foot on a cricket pitch ever again.
An article in Monday's SMH suggested that anyone who questions “the appropriateness of the immense public outcry” is missing the point, that Hughes' death was “an awful public awakening” knocking “the innocence out of cricket”. WTF? I suggest to the author, that perhaps he should look at the front page of that edition of the newspaper, where the lead story is about two children who found the decomposed remains of an infant at Maroubra Beach on Sunday. That, to me, is a hell of a bigger public awakening, is undoubtedly more awful and has wider implications. As for innocence being knocked out of cricket, I suggest to same author that he should google “Bodyline”. If anything, cricketing innocence died in that test series of 1932/33, not on the pitch in November 2014...
Yes, it's tragic when a young life, and one with such potential, is terminated way too early. Please do not get me wrong on this matter. I just question why there is/was so much media attention placed upon it. Young people die every day on this planet, probably quite a few in more tragic circumstances, and a lot of them will barely rate a mention (if at all) in a newspaper, blog or a post on FB/twitter. Phil Hughes was fatally injured on live TV, with possibly thousands of people watching, and his demise has been felt by a nation that takes a lot of pride in it's sporting heroes.
Hmm, I think I have just answered my own question. It makes sense, but I don't agree with it. I'm going to leave it at that.
So, whilst all this was happening, last week, what did I get up? Last Monday (24/11) I took a chance with the weather and decided to go for a long walk. The walk went for roughly 6 kms, with the starting point in Kincumber and the finish in Davistown. It was an enjoyable walk, and I took around 460 shots, though ended up having to delete 80 of them for one reason or another. It was a warm day, and yes, I did take pre-cautions, wearing a long sleeved top, a hat and putting on sunscreen as well. I also drank plenty of water. I hadn't done the full walk before, generally stopping at some point along the way as the walking trail meandered around the Kincumber Broadwater before turning back. This time, I continued until I reached the Illoura Reserve at Davistown, where I stayed for forty minutes or so before catching a bus back to Erina Fair for a late lunch and some grocery shopping.
Kincumber Broadwater, along with one of the memorials I photographed for the Monument Australia website, a dedication to local Central Coast shipbuilders.
It was worth it. The walk wasn't that demanding (very flat for the entire journey) but I sweated all the same, and I didn't over exert my ankles and calves. Along the way, I managed to capture a few shots of some memorials for the Monument Australia website (Kincumber and Davistown, and the previous Monday, 17/11, I added one for Ettalong as well) and get some good ones of the area as well as some wildlife. The highlight being a series of shots I took of a family of wood swallows that had taken up residence in a mooring post in the channel.
Unfortunately, couldn't get all four of them together.
I also came to the conclusion that I really need to get a new camera, as I missed some good shots of a pair of juvenile butcher birds in a bush regeneration area, as well as not being able to capture a juvenile brush turkey that I spotted along the way, and missing some landscape shots as well. I've looked into this, finding one that I feel will suit my needs, and it isn't going to cost me an absolute fortune either. Shopping around pays off. Even with a discount for being a Mariners' member, one company's website couldn't match a discount site that was offering it for $200 less.
Even though I've only had my current camera for roughly two years, I've gotten over 45,000 shots with it. Probably the best $120 I've spent in a long time.
Whilst I'm on the subject, I took in some entries for the Gosford Small Art Prize on Nov 22. The theme for this exhibition/contest is “The Spirit of the Central Coast”, and I feel I entered the right three pictures. One was of the Mariners' Brass Band, and two were shots of recognisable spots, Avoca Beach and Nora Head. The pictures themselves couldn't be that big, with the entire project, including frame, being a maximum of 20 cm x 20 cm. The exhibition starts this week and runs for three weeks.
I've also done some work on Feudball 2. It had been two months since I last sat down to do any sort of work on it, and I was able to tidy up some chapters and advance the current one (19) a few more pages. The first eighteen have been completed, chapters 30 and 31 have as well as the epilogue, whilst 27 – 29 and 33 have got material written for it. Word count? 118,235. In comparison, the second draft of Feudball 1 had 174,507. I really do need to get back to it, but I had another idea for a game which took up the best part of a week whilst I worked on it until I ran out of steam. (Needless to say, this has happened a lot over the years, but I felt it was such a good idea that I really should put as much down on paper before I forgot all about it.)
Well, I feel I've probably said all that I wanted to say in this post. Thursday will be my Mental Health Support Group's annual Xmas get-together. I hope it'll be a lot cooler on the day than it is today. Ciao!
All images by Geoff G Turner (c) 2014.
All links correct as of time of post - 2 Dec 2014.
All images by Geoff G Turner (c) 2014.
All links correct as of time of post - 2 Dec 2014.