The second day of the final Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Manuka Oval in Canberra witnessed a scary moment when Sri Lanka’s opener, Dimuth Karunaratne, was hit on the back of the helmet by a sharp bouncer from pacer Pat Cummins. The incident occurred in the fourth ball of the 31st over as the left-hander prepared to face Cummins. The bowler banged a short and pacy ball but the batsman was late in ducking and also took his eyes off the ball, Karunaratne bent and the ball hit him on the back of the helmet. Karunaratne fell to the crease and the Australian players rushed to check him. Australia’s team doctor and Sri Lanka’s physio also attended to him.
Play was held up for five minutes and Karunaratne was given proper medical attention with the Australian players showing genuine concern. The Sri Lanka batsman was stretchered off but he was seen talking to the medical staff at all times. The batsman was taken to the hospital and had not lost consciousness at all in that period. Cricket Australia provided this update 30 minutes after the incident. “Dimuth complained of pain in neck and tingling to his hands following being struck in the back of the neck, decision then made to transport him to hospital where he is currently being assessed. Updates will be provided when more is known,” the update read.
Australia picked up three quick wickets after Karunaratne was forced to retire on 46*. Earlier, the hosts made 534/5 declared thanks to centuries from Joe Burns, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson.
Karunaratne falling to the ground after getting hit by a bouncer rekindled nightmares when the cricketing world was hit by the tragic death of Phillip Hughes. On November 25, 2014, Hughes was playing the Sheffield Shield encounter for South Australia against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground. On 63, Hughes tried to pull a short ball from Sean Abbott but he missed and the ball hit him on the back of the neck. Hughes collapsed and was taken to the hospital where he died on November 27.
The incident forced authorities to rethink about the use of the bouncer while a neck guard was added below the helmet in order to protect the batsmen from blows resulting from missing a short ball.