‘Horrible moment’ revives cricket horror
AUSTRALIAN cricketer Sean Abbott, who bowled the bouncer that struck and killed Phillip Hughes, was involved in another chilling incident that felled a batsman in the domestic Sheffield Shield Sunday.
Fast bowler Abbott, playing for New South Wales, bowled a short ball that struck the helmet of Will Pucovski, forcing the Victorian batsman to retire at Melbourne's Junction Oval.
It took Pucovski several minutes to get to his feet after treatment before he was helped off the ground by medical and physio staff, seemingly struggling to keep his balance, reports said.
It was a harrowing moment for Abbott, who bowled the bouncer that struck former Australia Test batsman Hughes on his neck at the Sydney Cricket Ground in November 2014, which tragically led to his death.
An emotional Abbott took time to regain his composure after the sickening incident before resuming his bowling spell.
Pucovski is regarded as one of Australia's most promising young batsmen. At just 20 years old, has a history of concussion-related incidents.
In his first-class debut last season Pucovski's match ended early when he was struck in the head, forcing him to miss three months of cricket as a result of the blow.
The death of the popular Hughes at 25 stunned Australia and the world cricket community, sparking an outpouring of grief.
A coronial inquest in 2016 found that Hughes had made a "minuscule misjudgement" before he was fatally struck and no blame was attached to Abbott.
Cricket Australia has new rules in place for concussion subs in domestic games following recommendations from an independent investigation into the death of Hughes.
Steve O'Keefe reminded Australian selectors of his quality with a career-best haul as the sides played out a dramatic opening day on Saturday.
O'Keefe bowled with accuracy and turn to claim 8-77 for the Blues, with the defending champions and winners of three-straight titles fired out for 199 just after tea.
The left-armer's return from 32.4 accurate overs partly overshadowed a magnificent 109 from Victoria's Marcus Harris.
The opener scored more than half of his side's total in a boundary-laden innings, which included 14 fours and two sixes.
Victoria, celebrating their first match in almost a decade at the redeveloped St Kilda venue, made equally good use of the ball and had the Blues reeling at 4-65 by the close.
O'Keefe played the last of his nine Tests in September against Bangladesh. The 33-year-old was overlooked this season for a Cricket Australia contract, with Victorian Jon Holland taken as the second spinner on the four-Test tour of South Africa as back-up to Nathan Lyon.
O'Keefe had collected just eight wickets this season from four Shield matches, but said last weekend's draw with Tasmania was the "best our bowlers have bowled all year".
Harris managed to defy O'Keefe before he was the sixth wicket to fall, caught behind off medium-pacer Harry Conway (1-28).
"The wicket felt pretty good with the seamers in the first hour but, once Steve O'Keefe came on, there was a bit of turn and a bit of bounce," said Harris. "He is obviously a class bowler and he got the most out of it.
"With his angle, it is probably a bit harder to play as a right-hander so, being a left-hander, I could maybe get some easy singles, but he bowled really well."
After winning the toss and batting, Victoria's strong line-up failed to fire after Travis Dean (6), Glenn Maxwell (8), Pucovski (2) and Aaron Finch (0) all fell victim to O'Keefe, leaving the home side at 4-75.
NSW, however, made a similar start to the Vics, losing three of their recognised batsman, as well as nightwatchman Abbott.