Leading brain injury charity questions cricket’s approach to concussions

Cricket Steve.Smith_.Concussion.Ashes_.PA_

Headway, a leading brain injury charity believes concussions can be just as prevalent in cricket as within other sports despite its non-contact nature, and has raised concerns about how the issue is currently being handled within the sport.

The world drew its breath after Australian superstar Steve Smith suffered a direct blow to his neck from a 92mph bouncer during the recent second Ashes Test match at Lord’s.

The incident was eerily reminiscent of the tragedy that befell fellow Australian Phillip Hughes, after the opener sadly passed away from a similar delivery that struck his neck in 2014.

Smith initially retired hurt following the blow, but having passed the necessary concussion checks soon after, was given the green light to return to the middle less than an hour later.

READ: Australia doctor responds to Steve Smith concussion controversy

That decision sparked debate as Smith subsequently reported suffering from a headache and grogginess the following morning, with further concussion tests confirming that the batsman had indeed suffered a concussion with the symptoms only flaring up multiple hours after the incident had originally occurred.

Luke Griggs, the deputy chief executive of Headway spoke about the sport’s approach to the issue, stating: “Cricket has been caught on the back foot a little bit with concussion. We thought it was an American football, rugby or football issue, but we are slowly beginning to realise that it affects all sports.

“The reaction time of a batsman facing a 90 mph-plus delivery is incredibly small and yet it is absolutely vital they are fully concentrated.

Steve Smith Bouncer Ashes PA

“With concussion the vision can be blurred and the brain can be slow at processing information. That leads to delayed reaction times and is just incredibly dangerous.”

Headway believe this incident has shown that a safety-first approach must be taken with regards to all matters relating to the head.

“What this incident highlights is that no test for concussion is foolproof,” the organisation said.

“The signs can be delayed for several hours and sometimes even a couple of days. You cannot take any risks with concussion, which is why we have always said that all sports have to take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach.

“If there is even an hint of concussion when someone is bowling at 90 mph, there is absolutely no way a player should be on the pitch. Cricket may need to consider this, while making it abundantly clear that players should have absolutely no say in the decision.”