Updated: January 6, 2015 4:07:31 pm
England all-rounder Stuart Broad has praised Australia captain Michael Clarke, his team and the general public for the respect they showed Phillip Hughes following the death of the opening batsman in November.
The 25-year-old Hughes was struck on the back of the neck by a bouncer delivered by fast bowler Sean Abbott during a domestic first-class game at the Sydney Cricket Ground and died two days later from his injuries.
“I think it shocked not just the cricketing world, but the whole world, the fact someone could pass away playing cricket, doing something he loved,” Broad told Reuters in an interview at Wentworth Golf Club on the outskirts of London.
“I’ve got so much respect for how Australia dealt with it, the team, the public, Michael Clarke. I can’t put myself in that position, losing a team mate like that.
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“The way Australia handled the whole situation was brilliant because it was an awfully tragic situation to be involved in.”
Hughes’ death triggered an avalanche of tributes. Clarke was at the forefront and the distraught skipper was a near-constant presence at his hospital bedside.
Broad said he was also heartened to see the 22-year-old Abbott make a speedy return to cricket.
“It was good to see Sean get back on the field, get six wickets in his first game and bowl a bouncer in his first over,” said the right-arm paceman.
“That was important for him. He must have some great people around him.”
Broad has fully recovered from knee surgery and will fly out with the rest of the England one-day squad on Tuesday for this month’s Tri-series with hosts Australia and India and the 50-over World Cup that starts in February.
The 28-year-old paceman likes to bowl the occasional short ball and does not believe the Hughes tragedy will affect the way he performs.
“The big question people ask is, ‘Do you think it will change the way cricket is played?’,” said Broad, who is an ambassador for Investec, sponsors of this year’s Ashes test series between England and Australia.
“I can’t see that particularly, even in the current Australia-India Test series there has been quite an aggressive approach. But as soon as someone gets hit you see an immediate change to, ‘Are they okay?’ and I’m sure that will continue for ever.
“I certainly don’t bowl a bouncer to injure someone. As soon as you hit someone it does shock you and you ask, ‘Are you alright?’, added Broad.
“It’s part and parcel of the game and will always be there. There were times in the early 1990s when people used to get no-balled for bowling too aggressively but I can’t see that coming back.”
Broad, an accomplished left-handed batsman who has hit one hundred and 10 half-centuries in his 74 Tests for England, was fortunate to escape serious injury in the fourth Test against India last year.
The all-rounder, who took six for 25 in India’s first innings to win the man of the match award, retired injured while batting after a bouncer from Varun Aaron became lodged in his helmet.
“I got hit last summer, broke my nose in two places and was actually very lucky,” said Broad.
“You don’t bowl a bouncer to hurt someone, you do it to set the momentum of the batsman back in their crease so the next ball, if you bowl it in a good area, they are not into the ball as much and they might edge it.
“As soon as you hit someone it does shock you.”
Broad is also a decent golfer and received some swing tips from Europe’s victorious 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley at Wentworth but his mind is firmly focused on the one-day cricket coming up in Australia.
Eoin Morgan was brought in as one-day captain last month in place of the out-of-form Alastair Cook and Broad said the Middlesex left-hander would be keen to make a quick impression on the World Cup squad.
“Eoin will want to put a certain stamp on the team I imagine,” added the all-rounder.
“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We play Australia at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) on Feb. 14 to open the World Cup and any cricketer in the world would love to play in that sort of game.”
Alex Hales is likely to come in for Cook at the top of the batting order and Broad said his Nottinghamshire team mate could be a key player for England.
“One-day cricket has changed quite a lot in the last four or five years,” he explained. “Having four men outside the ring instead of five is an example… we’ve gone from scores of 280 being par to 320 and 330.
“We’ve got the sort of players who can set those sorts of scores. You saw with Alex last year for Notts, getting 140s and 150s off 120 balls,” said Broad.
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