Steve Smith
Steve Smith felled by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord's in 2019. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Sport, as the term suggests, is not always fun. There are many lurking dangers. As the level goes higher, the intensity also increases and along with it the level of dangers, leaving very little margin for errors. One wrong step could end in cuts, bruises, broken bones and sometimes a broken jaw, but in extreme cases causing death to the sportsman.

Injuries in sport and to sportsmen are now the talking point after Tiger Woods returned to Masters from a severe car crash that almost had his leg amputated, Mich Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, who is in coma since a skiing accident in 2014, talking about his father’s exploits in Melbourne and finally a metal plate removed from the skull of Nari Contractor 60 years later after he was hit on the head by a bouncer. It's a little-known fact that a leather ball bowled at a speed of over 140kmph could be as lethal as a bullet.

Gulf News takes a look at several cricket injuries that have either cut short their careers or brought an untimely end to their lives.

1. Nari Contractor

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Former Indian skipper Nari Contractor. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The former Indian captain had a metal plate fixed on his skull after being hit by a Charlie Griffith bouncer in 1962, which eventually ended the international career of Contractor. The incident was one of the most talked about after Sir Frank Worrell and some of the West Indian players when he was fighting for his life in a Barbados hospital. However, at 88, Contractor had his titanium plate removed in a Mumbai hospital earlier this week.

2. Raman Lamba

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Opener Raman Lamba has made his mark in ODIs, including India's Champions Trophy campaign in Sharjah. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The former Indian opener was one of the prolific scorers in the Indian domestic league and became the man of the series during one-day series against Australia in 1986-87 series. Though he did not taste much success after that, Lamba was a big name in the pre-IPL era and played in other leagues. It was in Bangladesh league that he suffered a hit on the head while fielding at short leg, albeit without a helmet. He slipped into a coma after an internal haemorrhage and died in Dhaka hospital.

3. Phil Hughes

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Phil Hughes showed plenty of promise for Australia until an untimely death ended his blossoming career. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The Australian opener, one of the exciting talents, died two days later after being hit by a bouncer one week before his 26th birthday during a Sheffield Shield game at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25, 2014. Though the left-hander was wearing a helmet, the ball struck him in the unprotected area below the left ear. His death caused ripples in the crickeketing world and called for several improvements to safety of the batters.

4. Saba Karim

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Indian wicketkeeper Saba Karim has become a commentator now after a freak injury ended his career. Image Credit: AP

The wicketkeeper was in and out of the Indian team for more than a decade and just when he seemed to have cemented his place in the team, disaster struck him. He was hit on the right eye while keeping the wickets for Anil Kumble during the Asia Cup in Dhaka in May 2000, effectively ending his career after undergoing a surgery.

5. Mark Boucher

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Mark Boucher might have ended his playing career, but he has been involved with South African cricket since. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Another wicketkeeper whose career was cut short by a bail that flew and hit him while keeping. It was another day at the office for Boucher during a tour game against Somerset in July 2012. Fellow South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain and the bail hit the left eye as he was keeping without any protection. He missed the rest of the tour and subsequently retired, though thankfully there was no damage to the retina.

6. Craig Kieswetter

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The talented Craig Kieswetter's early end to his career must have been big blow to England. Image Credit: AP

The England wicketkeeper was struck on the face after the ball penetrated through the helmet grill and damaged his vision while playing for Somerset in 2014. Though he was in England’s 2015 World Cup squad, the South African-born Kieswetter continued to face difficulty with his vision and retired in 2017, aged 27, only to become a professional golfer.

7. HP Lighton

All along we have only talked about batters and wicketkeepers whose career were affected by a bowler. Here is one instance the bowler has become a victim himself. In 1872, at Repton in Derbyshire, Lighton was struck on the head by a hit from a batter and died of injuries.

8 Steve Smith

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Steve Smith has had three concussions since 2019, including one in February in Sri Lanka while fielding. Image Credit: Reuters

The former Australian skipper is a perfect candidate for concussion. In fact, Smith, one of the best batters in world cricket today, was the first to be substituted after the concussion rule came into effect in 2019. He was hit on the head by England’s Jofra Archer during the Ashes Test at Lord’s. He has suffered concussion three times and if he is not hit while batting, then Smith finds himself concussed while fielding.

9. Will Pucovski

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Will Pucovski has had a freak injury recently where he got concussed while playing volleyball during warm-up. Image Credit: Reuters

Concussion and the Australian opener seemed to be inseparable. Pucovski suffered concussion for the 11th time, sparking fears over his health and its long-term effects. Playing his first professional cricket match over a year, Pucovski was hit on the face by a volleyball during a warm-up before the Sheffield Shield game for Victoria against South Australia, he was hit on the face after kicking it up his own head.

10. Anil Kumble

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Indian spinner Anil Kumble showed many a time that he has a heart of steel, including playing after a jaw fracture.

Famously known as Jumbo, the Indian leg-spinner bowled with a bandage tied to his jaw after suffering a jaw fracture while facing Mervyn Dillon in Antigua in 2002. Kumble, the brave heart, batted after suffering the fracture and even came out to bowl for India and dismissed the legendary West Indian left-hander Brian Lara before heading back to Bengaluru the following day for his surgery.