Cricketer hit by ball suffers brain swelling

By Shauni James -
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Karl McKnight suffered swelling to his brain after he was struck by a cricket ball.
Karl McKnight suffered swelling to his brain after he was struck by a cricket ball.

A Rotorua cricketer is in Waikato Hospital after a ball struck him in the head causing swelling to his brain.

Karl McKnight is in a stable condition at Waikato Hospital awaiting more scans after receiving a hit to the head from the ball while batting.

The incident has brought the mandatory wearing of helmets back into the limelight following the death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes at the end of 2014.

Mr McKnight told the Rotorua Daily Post via Facebook he was not up to being interviewed at this stage because he was struggling with his words. He said in a message "I'm in the neuro ward in Hamilton struggling with words. More scans tomorrow but getting better".

"I have some swelling on the brain. Thought (it) was a trauma migraine ... very lucky. 1st time hit in head by ball and will always wear (a helmet) from now on."

Geyser City Cricket Club first team captain and fellow team mate Matt Collier said the ball was a back-of-the-length rising delivery which was misjudged by Mr McKnight. There was nothing vicious about the bowl, he said.

Mr McKnight was given immediate attention, with ice wrapped around his head and they got him walking and talking.

"He had a bit of a headache."

He said Mr McKnight had been alert and what action was taken was his call the whole time.

He slowly deteriorated as the game was ending and was then taken straight to Rotorua Hospital, Mr Collier said.

"He was pretty groggy, he kind of lost a bit of his hearing to start with."

He also had issues speaking, he said.

"His speech was a little bit indifferent."

Mr Collier said, from what he understands, where Mr McKnight was hit was where all the speech nerves were in the brain.

After scans at Rotorua Hospital revealed some serious damage he was ambulanced straight to Waikato Hospital that night, Mr Collier said.

Mr Collier said it was a shock and, "a bit of a wakeup call for the guys".

He said most batters wore helmets but some of the experienced guys did not.

The team played another game on Sunday against Mount Maunganui, with everyone wearing helmets.

"They played with their hearts, playing for Karl."

He said the entire cricket club had been really good, with people who played with Mr McKnight now and those who had in the last 25 years all offering support and love to the family.

"We are doing all we can to make sure this period is as smooth as possible."

Everyone was pretty unified in the cricketing world, he said.

"No one wants to see this happen."

Mr Collier said the bowler "was a bit shaken up at the time", but his team got behind him and we were reassuring him it wasn't his fault.

"It was just an unfortunate incident on the cricketing field."

He said at the end of the day it came down to the individual to wear a helmet, but he hoped people would have meetings and talks around safety.

"We have as a club and will continue to do so."

Bay of Plenty Cricket chief executive officer Paul Read said wearing a helmet was not so much a mandatory policy but was strongly encouraged.

He said it was a question they had asked themselves since the incident involving Hughes in Australia.

"I think it is more of a national question."

He said from Bay of Plenty's point of view the use of helmets in hard ball cricket was certainly encouraged, as was all protective gear.

Helmets have to be worn for representative cricket, but not for more social adult grades, he said.

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