The world of cricket was in a state of shock on Tuesday as the Australian batsman Phil Hughes lay critically ill in hospital. He had to undergo emergency surgery after being struck by a horrendous blow on the head while playing a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He was placed in an induced coma following an operation to relieve pressure on his brain. The outcome is unlikely to be known for another day or so but the gravity of the 25-year-old’s condition and the perils faced by batsmen from a ball being propelled at speeds around 90mph even when wearing a helmet were in no doubt.
In Colombo, where England and Sri Lanka are preparing for a one-day series, there was a deep sense of concern and distress for a fellow player – and one who happens to be highly popular. That sombre mood was shared by cricketers everywhere, who were starkly reminded of the dangers inherent in the game.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, said: “The whole team have been in shock all day. All our thoughts and prayers are with Philip. We have guys from Worcestershire and Middlesex, where he played, and a lot of us have played against him. It’s a really saddening incident and fingers crossed he can show the fight he has throughout his whole career and pull through.”
**Warning - the video below contains graphic material**
Hughes was on 63 not out playing for South Australia against his former side New South Wales on the first day of a Sheffield Shield match. He was making a solid case to be recalled to the Australia side for the first Test of the winter against India next week.
Hughes received several short balls from the fast bowler Sean Abbott which he ducked or backed away from. Faced with another bouncer, he went for a hook and missed. The ball hit him behind the ear on the left side as he turned his head, evading the protection of the helmet.He stood motionless for a few seconds with his hands on his knees, then collapsed.
The team’s medical staff were summoned urgently on to the pitch by concerned fielders, and a motionless Hughes was placed on a stretcher. He was treated at the side of the pitch by NSW team doctor John Orchard and received mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen after he appeared to stop breathing at one point. Hughes was then taken to the city’s St Vincent Hospital.
Phillip Hughes: Career in pictures
Phillip Hughes: Career in pictures
1/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes burst onto the international scene by scoring 115 and 160 against South Africa in just his second Test
2/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes, playing here in a tour match against Sussex, is well known to English fans after spells with Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire
3/7 Phil Hughes
In last summer's Ashes series Hughes scored 81* at Trent Bridge as part of a 10th wicket partnership of 163 with the debutant Ashton Agar
4/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes's most recent Test outing was the Lords test of the 2013 Ashes series
5/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes has scored 1535 runs in 26 Test appearances at an average of 32.65
6/7 Phil Hughes
Despite making his Test debut in 2009 Hughes is still just 25 - he has played 114 First Class matches and scored 26 centuries
7/7 Phil Hughes
Although he has been absent from the Test line-up, Hughes recently regained his place in the One Day side for series against Pakistan and South Africa
Cricket Australia (CA) team doctor Peter Brukner later said that Hughes had “sustained a severe head injury” and “remains in a critical condition” after surgery.
The Australian Cricket Association’s chief executive, Alastair Nicholson, said: “While we have faith that he’s receiving the best available treatment, the situation will impact his family, friends and those directly involved on the field. The ACA is therefore working closely with CA to arrange the appropriate counselling for those affected.”
Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, a close friend, visited him in hospital. The match was abandoned.
Cricket in shock: Reaction to the incident
David Warner Thoughts are with my little mate Hughsy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy
Damien Martyn Thoughts and prayers for Phil Hughes and his family. We sit silently and pray he recovers from this.
Shane Warne We are all thinking of you Phil Hughes. Prayers & best wishes for a speedy recovery to you & your family. Hang tough my buddy... #cricketfamily
Jason Gillespie Our thoughts are with Phil Hughes and his family. Feeling for everyone that was at the game too. #staystrong
Virat Kohli Thoughts and prayers with Phil Hughes all the way. Fight it out mate. You are a top man. All the strength goes out to you and your family.
Alastair Cook It’s taken us – when we woke up this morning... [trails off] The whole dressing room, the whole team have been in a bit of shock all day really, to be honest with you. All our thoughts and prayers are with Phillip
Michael Vaughan Just woke to the Devastating news about Phil Hughes... Thoughts are with his family... #CricketFamily
Matt Prior What horrible news to wake up to! Thoughts and prayers with #PhilHughes and his family! #staystrong
Andrew Flintoff Prayers are with Phil Hughes and his family, wishing him all the best cracking lad!
Paul Collingwood Come on, Phil you’re a fighter. Thoughts are with you and your family #PhilHughes
Kevin Pietersen #PrayForPhilHughes