After Phil Hughes’ death, Shane Watson dreaded pace bowlers

On the morning of 25th November 2014, Phil Hughes was struck on the neck by a bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott. He was immediately taken to the hospital but unfortunately couldn’t survive the blow and died on 27th November, just 3 days before his 26th birthday. The incident left the world of cricket in total shock and made many cricketers question their love for the sport, especially Shane Watson.

Amongst the many devastated Australian cricketers one was Shane Watson, who spoke recently about the effect Phil Hughes untimely death had on him. The 36-year-old questioned continuing playing cricket as fear had totally gripped him when facing fast bowlers.

Speaking on a podcast on Sydney Morning Herald, Watson said, “I didn’t have fear, honestly, up until Phil Hughes got killed. Fast bowling was always my strength … I was fielding at first slip when Phil got hit, so it wasn’t until that moment that fear came into my game massively, and that was one of the reasons why against fast bowling in my career, in my performance with the bat started to really dive, because I had no idea how to deal with it.”

Shane Watson had a 14 year long career with the Australian national team, where he played 59 Tests, 190 ODIs and 58 T20Is. However, after the death of Phil Hughes, Watson just played 7 test matches for Australia, where he managed to score just 323 runs at an average of 26.91.

“The innocence of the game of cricket went immediately. I always knew that you could get hurt of course … if a ball went through my helmet I could fracture my face or my eye socket or jaw or whatever it was but never ever contemplated that you could actually get killed.” Watson further added.

Watson spoke how the presence of his family around him, made him question whether the risk was worth it. I had a two-year-old son at that stage. Will was two and just the thought that went through and continued to go through my mind for a long period of time, was ‘what if that was me?’. Like what happens to my family, not just my mum and dad, but my wife and my son,” the all-rounder concluded.