Cricketer Phil Hughes dies from 'catastrophic' bouncer injury

Australian international never regained consciousness after being struck on the neck by a short ball

Australian cricketer Phil Hughes
(Image credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty)

Australian cricketer Phil Hughes has died after being struck by a bouncer.

The 25-year-old batsman was felled by a ball from Sean Abbott while batting for South Australia against New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield game on Tuesday. After receiving treatment on the Sydney Cricket Ground pitch, Hughes was rushed to the city's St Vincent Hospital where he underwent a 90-minute operation to relieve pressure on his brain.

He died without regaining consciousness on Thursday morning, said Australia team doctor Peter Brukner in a short statement. "He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends. As a cricket community we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillip's family and friends at this incredibly sad time."

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At a news conference following the tragic news, a hospital spokesman explained that the ball had not in fact struck Hughes on the head, but the side of the neck, compressing a vertebral artery that leads to the brain. "That caused the artery to split and for bleeding to go up to the brain," said the spokesman. The trauma surgeon who treated Hughes described the injury as "catastrophic".

The news has shocked the whole of Australia with Prime Minister Tony Abbott declaring that Hughes' death is "a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family".

"For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration," he said. "He was loved, admired and respected by his teammates and by legions of cricket fans."

Hughes, who grew up on a banana farm in New South Wales, was a teenage prodigy who made his state debut aged 18 and the following year became the youngest player to score a century in a Pura Cup (Sheffield Shield) final. He made his Test debut aged 20 in 2009 and was a member of the Australian side that contested the Ashes against England in the summer of 2013. Although he struggled for form during that series, Hughes shared in what was then a world record 10th-wicket partnership of 163 with Ashton Agar. Hughes also enjoyed spells playing county cricket for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, and was last seen for Australia in a one-day international match last month against Pakistan.

Many of Hughes' international team-mates visited his bedside in the hours following the accident and Australian captain Michael Clarke read a statement at St Vincent's Hospital on behalf of Hughes' family. "We are devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother. Cricket was Phillip's life and we as a family shared that love with him."

Tributes to Hughes have been pouring in with teammates and opponents alike expressing their grief on Twitter. Former England all-rounder turned TV pundit Ian Botham also mourned the loss of Hughes and also asked people to "spare a thought for Sean Abbott", the bowler whose innocent actions have ended in such terrible tragedy.

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