Hughes, 25, who was pressing for a Test recall, crashed to the ground unconscious after the heavy blow to the lower head and was rushed to hospital from the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
Television images showed the helmeted Hughes, who had scored a composed 63 for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield game, standing dazed before going down face-first following the rising delivery from New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott.
The initial consensus from leading cricketers and experienced observers was that Hughes had been the victim of a freak accident.
Masuri, the UK-based manufacturer of the helmet worn by Hughes and one of the leading suppliers of protective headgear to many of the world’s top batsmen, said in a statement they wished him a “full and speedy recovery”.
Their statement said they were seeking as much footage of the incident as possible to be able to see more conclusively exactly where Hughes had been hit.
“From the footage and pictures currently available to Masuri, it appears that Phil Hughes was struck by the ball to the rear of the grille and below the back of the shell, missing his Masuri Original Test model helmet,” the company’s statement said.
“This is a vulnerable area of the head and neck that helmets cannot fully protect, while enabling batsmen to have full and proper movement.”
– Extra protection –
However, Masuri’s statement added: “The newly-developed Masuri Vision Series helmet, which supersedes the 2013 helmet worn by Phil Hughes, does afford batsmen extra protection in this region –- and still allows comfortable movement.”
Nevertheless, it was yet to be determined whether a change of helmet could have prevented Hughes’s accident or indeed if the design of the one he was wearing had played any part at all in his injury.
Masuri managing director Sam Miller said: “The thoughts of everyone at Masuri are with Phil Hughes and his family.
“Helmet manufacturers are constantly developing their products to make them safer.
“We work continuously with the governing authorities worldwide to reduce the risk of injury to players.”
A spokesman for Masuri told AFP the new Vision Series helmet had gone on sale in the UK in August 2014.
Peter Wright, the managing director of UK-based cricket specialists Gunn and Moore, whose range of equipment now includes helmets, said, based on the initial footage he had seen, Hughes had been unlucky.
“It’s a fairly difficult part of the head to protect, the neck area needs to be flexible,” Wright told Sky Sports. “I’m not saying it’s impossible, because things are moving so quickly in sports protection, but hopefully someone will be able to look at it.”
Safety standards for helmets in English county cricket, where Hughes has had spells with Middlesex, Hampshire and, most recently Worcestershire, were already in the process of being improved prior to his accident.
Angus Porter, chief executive of England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association, said: “There is a new British safety standard which is in the process of being implemented that will hopefully offer a greater measure of protection.
“The standard is now live and the manufacturers are working with testing houses on designs that will pass.
“The first batch of helmets are coming through now which would pass the test and we’re hopeful we will see them used in professional cricket next season.”
However, Porter said complete protection was impossible.
“It’s difficult to know exactly what difference the standard might have made in this precise circumstance because there will always be an element of risk in cricket,” he said.
“The balls are hard and they travel fast. No design will eliminate risk completely.
“While we haven’t had life-threatening injuries for some time in this country we have had a number of serious injuries,” he added.
“Stuart Broad and Craig Kieswetter were notable examples this year and it is a matter to take very, very seriously indeed.” -AFP