Dec 19, 2014
The Australian. Article by: Simon King- November 28, 2014
Unthinkable tragedy has played out this way before
Garrett, a Sydney first-grade pace bowler, dropped one short, the South African batsman played and missed and was hit on the back of the head. Greg Hobson, 21, died on the field.
“It was just a short ball, he tried to play a pull shot, missed, turned his head and he got hit in the worst possible spot,” Garrett told The Australian.
“I knew he was in trouble as soon as he got hit, because he fell to his knees straight away. I raced down the pitch, but by the time we got to him to support him, his eyes had rolled back into his head and he was struggling to breathe.”
In the mid-90s, the British Columbia Cricket Association league featured several international first-class players, former Test players, some solid grade cricketers and even Malcolm Nash, the Welsh legend who had been famously hit for six sixes in six balls by Garfield Sobers in 1968.
On that sunny June day in 1995, Hobson — whose twin brother, Wayne, was also playing in the game — had decided to take his helmet off due to the heat.
Bowling at the other end and fielding in close when the ball struck was Solomons, now director of coaching at Sydney’s Kingsgrove Cricket Academy. “It was a very similar reaction to Phillip Hughes, where he didn’t collapse straight away, he went down on his hands and knees: but the one thing that will never leave me is the sound he made,” Solomons said.
“He made this groan and then he went down completely.”
Garrett said he had not been able to watch the tragic moments unfold at the SCG but reading the reports brought back all the memories of Canada. “I just remember how helpless we all felt in the field, desperately yelling for people to call an ambulance and how I wish I had just bowled a f ... king yorker instead,” he said.
For all the players involved, getting back onto the field and bowling that first ball was a giant step — and, for Garrett, one that felt like moving into a surreal haze.
“I can’t even remember bowling in the next game,” he said. “The rest of that season, it was quite bizarre. Probably the most bizarre, the strangest game to play again, was the following season at the same ground, where it all happened.”
The players were offered counselling, but ultimately it was the support of the cricket community that got them through.
“Everyone realised just how unfortunate a situation it was — the chances of it happening are just ridiculously low,” Garrett said.
“The cricketers understand the chance scenario. That was important to us as a team, and me and the Hobson family.” Solomons, who shared an attic room with Garrett at the time, saw first-hand the effect on his mate. “I think Phil handled it amazingly,” he said.
“But he was having nightmares. Our beds were at opposite ends of the attic; I was being constantly woken up with him in all sorts of distress in the middle of the night.
“The cricket community, the whole competition, got in behind him. Greg’s parents and his twin brother, everyone from the club he was playing against, said: ‘No, it’s not your fault, it’s part of the game … it could have happened to anyone — it was an accident’.
“I think that probably made the process a lot easier for Phil.”
For Garrett, bowling was never the same. “When I came back to Australia I almost gave up bowling,” he said. “You are really conscious about it — and you definitely think twice about short-pitched bowling ever again. I can only imagine what it’s doing for someone like Sean Abbott … He’s going to be pretty reluctant to ever bowl that again I reckon.”