Sean Abbott was looking forward to playing for New South Wales © Getty Images
Sean Abbott was looking forward to playing at his beloved Sydney Cricket Ground and hoped there would be no rain on the day © Getty Images

As the world mourned over the shocking death of Phillip Hughes earlier in the day, Sean Abbott broke down in tears. It will possibly take some time for him to return to international cricket.  Abhishek Mukherjee writes why it is the moral obligation of cricket fans to get Abbott back on track.

What was Sean Abbott going through over the past two days? He bounced. The ball struck Phillip Hughes. Hughes collapsed. A helicopter arrived. Hughes was rushed to the hospital. He was kept in an induced coma. An emergency surgery had to be performed. He had to be kept under coma. Then he passed away.

Abbott was excited to play the Shield match at his beloved Sydney Cricket Ground. He was desperate to get going. He hoped the skies did not open up.

If only it had rained. If only the match had been washed out.

Abbott toiled hard against South Australia that day. Mark Cosgrove and Callum Ferguson had played cameos, but Hughes was the thorn in the flesh. He had kept out 160 balls against Abbott, Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger, Shane Watson, and Steve O’Keefe, and was preparing himself to feast on the foundation he had laid.

Abbott wanted Hughes out of the way. By getting him out. Not like this. He rushed to Hughes. He cradled him out of the arena. He was shocked when Hughes was felled, but he probably did not fear for the worst. Injuries have always been a part of the sport despite the rapid evolution of protective gear.

Abbott prayed for his recovery, but at his heart he probably hoped Hughes would recover. Hughes was certainly not the first cricketer to be hospitalised or to have undergone a surgery. He would certainly be the last. We all knew Hughes would be back. We all thought it was just another on-field injury — only a bit more serious.

So did Abbott.

The news shattered the world of cricket. But we will recover.

The Hughes family was devastated. Time heals the greatest of losses, or at least it is supposed to. The world will be with them.

As I write this article, I can perhaps picture Abbott somewhere. We, the followers of the sport, know it was an accident. He knows it too. But has he forgiven himself?

I have been trying to put myself in Abbott’s shoes since morning, but I cannot. Though the world knows Abbott is not at fault, it is difficult for him to stop feeling responsibility. Australian Cricket Association has been monitoring him, and will do their best for him if needed.

What about us, then? What about his teammates, ex-cricketers, and us — the commoners whom the sport has given so much? Do we not have a responsibility barring wishing for him on social media? Let us leave him on his own as of now. Let him grit it out. Let him find his way back. If he needs support, let us reach out to him. Let us make sure he finds his way back.

John Platts had quit bowling fast after George Summers had succumbed to a blow off his bowling. Let us make sure there is not another Platts. Let us help him come back.

And the day he does, let us cheer our lungs out and clap till the palms turn sore and red, whether we are at the ground, in front of a television set, or the internet.

Let’s.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)