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Phillip Hughes’ death affected me greatly, it could’ve been me: Ahmed Shehzad

A day after the world paid tribute to Hughes, Pakistan's Shehzad speaks on how he got away from the harm's way.

Written by Sahil Malhotra | New Delhi |
Updated: December 2, 2014 12:27:47 pm
Ahmed Shehzad fractured his cheekbone after being hit by a Corey Anderson bouncer during the recently concluded Test series (Source: Reuters) Ahmed Shehzad fractured his cheekbone after being hit by a Corey Anderson bouncer during the recently concluded Test series (Source: Reuters)

Two hooks, none connected and both ending up injuring the batsman. Within the space of a fortnight, Ahmed Shehzad and Phil Hughes suffered two nasty blows while trying to play the bouncer. While Shehzad got away with a fractured cheekbone, Hughes wasn’t that lucky. A day after the world paid tribute to the Australian batsman on what would have been his 26th birthday, Pakistan batsman Shehzad, who was struck by a Corey Anderson bouncer on the second day of the first Test against New Zealand, spoke of the horror incident and his special bond with Hughes. Excerpts:

Your first reaction when you heard of Hughes succumbing to his injury?

No one understands this situation better than I do. I went through a similar experience and know how it feels. When I heard about (Phillip) Hughes getting hit, I prayed for his speedy recovery. I knew what the body — both physically and mentally — undergoes after receiving such a blow. But when I heard the news of his death I was very disturbed. It was the saddest, and the most disturbing day for me. I tried a lot to distract myself and not think about it, but couldn’t. I mean it could have been me. Perhaps God wanted me to stay alive.

It could have been serious for you too.

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Hughes was hit in the area between the head and neck. I, luckily, got hit on the cheek bone. An inch here or there could have been much more serious. That’s what the doctor told me.

The cricketing fraternity has been moved by this accident. Is it affecting your recovery too?

I have been reading a lot about what Michael Clarke is saying, tweeting. I am very moved by his words. They were really close to each other. At the same time, I would like to mention about Sean Abbott. It was not that he did it intentionally. Bowlers do use the bouncer and they don’t intend to hurt a batsman. It is part of cricket. As far as my condition is concerned, I am fully fit and raring to go for the ODI series against New Zealand.

You played the U-19 World Cup in the same year as Hughes. Any memories?

Oh yes! Hughes and I played the U-19 World Cup (2007-08) and I have fond memories of hanging around with him, going out and having a good time together. Even during the time when we toured Australia for the U-19 contests, it was always fun having him around. He was a very nice human being, amazing bloke, and I’m going to miss him a lot.

What was your state after you were hit by the Corey Anderson delivery?

I went completely blank. It was a nasty blow. When I regained consciousness, the first thing I asked was ‘Have I got out?’ While lying on the ground I did feel that something major has happened. I mean it was a severe blow. When I opened my eyes I found the players were all shouting and our team physio talking to me. They got me back on my feet and prepared to leave the field. My face was hurting.

On your way back, the physio was constantly talking to you. What was he saying?

The physio was trying to keep me awake. He was asking me whether I can walk, how I am feeling and constantly talking to me on the way back to the pavilion. He had also called in medical help since he was only a physio and not a doctor.

Were you starting to get worried?

When I reached the dressing room, I was in severe pain. I remember our team manager Moin Khan taking me to the hospital in the ambulance. As I lay on the stretcher, the first thing I asked Moin was to try and get in touch with my brother or mother. I was worried about my family since I knew they would have watched it and would have been worried. When Moin asked me for their phone numbers, I was unable to recall them. I was blank. My brother and mother are the closest to me and I know their numbers by heart. But at that moment I couldn’t recall a single digit. I made some wild guesses, but they were no where close. It was only later in the hospital that I came back to my senses and recalled their numbers and had a word with my family.

What did the doctor make out of the injury?

The doctor basically told me that I was very lucky. An inch here or there and it could have been fatal. He told me I had sustained a fracture in my cheek bone but it will require surgery if I’m not able to open my jaw in the next 5-6 days. By God’s grace, everything went well.

Where exactly did the ball make contact? There are reports suggesting it hit you on the grill.

The reports are not right. The ball made contact with my cheek. There is a slight curve down in my helmet grill, and the ball, somehow, found a way through it.

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