WATCHING some of the cockpit camera action from Formula One racing cars during this season's thrilling World Championship is to be reminded of how close the drivers come to catastrophe every time they go onto the track.

To have a driver's eye view of attempted overtaking manoeuvres, and efforts to repel them, at speeds approaching 200mph when wheels can be just centimetres apart, is a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in the sport.

The horrific accident that befell Jules Bianchi during the rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix several weeks ago meanwhile, showed that in motor sport that danger is not confined to the wheel-to-wheel action.

But they as drivers, paid handsomely to put their safety on the line, and we, as viewers, know that occasionally, however meticulous the preparations and safeguards, accidents can and will happen.

Very few sports are entirely free of risk from injury, but most of those injuries are a result of the physical preparation and exertions required to perform, and that does not apply only to the higher echelons.

Nevertheless, the awful reality that someone can die whilst playing cricket has come as an enormous shock to those involved in the game, and to the wider sporting world.

Most of us who have seen the images of Phillip Hughes attempting to fend off and being hit by a bouncer from bowler Sean Abbott whilst playing for South Australia against New South Wales last Tuesday will have initially viewed them as unremarkable - until the stricken batsman collapses face first onto the turf.

Batsmen, especially those in the rarefied air of the so-called first class game, and even more so those on the verge of being called up for Test Match duty, expect and usually receive quick deliveries that rear up around the head.

Occasionally they are struck, sometimes on the helmet. There have been worse incidents than that which befell England's Stuart Broad earlier this year, when his nose was broken by a ball which smashed into his helmet.

But seeing what that incident did to Broad's face however, one was left thinking what might have been the consequences had he not been wearing a helmet.

However, it was then shrugged off as 'one of those things that happen'. What befell Hughes will hopefully be concentrating cricketing minds the world over.

For this is an issue that will affect all levels of the game. Many of the untold thousands of players whose teams perform on village greens and recreation grounds in England alone, will be able to tell stories of being hit by a cricket ball, and plenty of us who have wielded a bat in anger have had one or two deliveries that have shot past their heads close enough to part their hair.

And there's the rub. The vast majority in these grassroots levels of the game will not wear a helmet - and it does not take a speedy bowler to produce a delivery that takes off for head height due to a rogue bit of pitch.

The phrase 'freak accident' has been used several times this week in relation to what happened to Phillip Hughes, a somewhat crass description given the awful consequences.

This was thankfully, a very rare and terrible occurrence but nevertheless, lessons must be learned from it.

Hughes was wearing a helmet and happened to be hit on one of the few unprotected parts of his head, but even so, there must surely now be consideration given to making compulsory some sort of protective headgear for batsmen at all levels of the game.

Knee-jerk reaction? Possibly. But in the most appalling circumstances cricket - the game and not the circus that surrounds it - has lost some of its innocence.

After a suitable period of mourning for, and reflection on what happened to Phillip Hughes, its authorities need to act.

BLACK Friday - it is only a matter of time before this phrase finds its way into dictionaries, joining the ever- increasing lexicon used to describe modern life.

And if logic is applied, it should be joined by the term Black and Blue Saturday. Meaning: the day after Black Friday, when shoppers wake up to find their bodies covered in bruises, the result of elbowing, punching, kicking and butting their fellow bargain hunters.

Don't get me wrong, I love a bargain as much as anyone, but I am not prepared to queue through the night and participate in an ill-tempered stampede in order to get one.

My idea of a bargain is something one comes across by accident, almost without looking for it. Packing a sleeping bag, stove and coffee and camping outside my shop of choice? Ridiculous.

Thousands of us put ourselves through this absurd pantomime when the Boxing Day or New Year's sales begin, and now we have been provided by retailers with another excuse to get anxious, angry and aggressive over - for instance - a half-price bread maker.

We all need to chill out. To those swept up in this Christmas shopping angst - remember folks, 'tis the season to be jolly, not hospitalised.