[www.inewsguyana.com] – Australia Test batsman Phillip Hughes has died at age 25, two days after being struck on the top of the neck by a ball during a domestic match in Sydney.
Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said he passed away in hospital, never regaining consciousness.
Hughes, who also played for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, was hit by a delivery from bowler Sean Abbott.
“It’s an understatement to say we’re completely devastated,” said Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland.
“The word tragedy gets used too often in sport, but this freak accident is a real life tragedy.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke read out a statement on behalf of the Hughes family at a news conference held at St Vincent’s Hospital, where the player, who would have been 26 on Sunday, was treated.
Speaking on behalf of parents Greg and Virginia, sister Megan and brother Jason, he said: “We’re devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother, Phillip. It’s been a very difficult few days.
“We appreciate all the support we have received from family, friends, players, Cricket Australia and the general public.
“Cricket was Phillip’s life and we as a family shared that love of the game with him. We would like to thank all the medical and nursing staff at St Vincent’s Hospital and Cricket New South Wales medical staff for their great efforts with Phillip. We love you.”
A clearly emotional Clarke then stood up and left the room.
Hughes, batting for South Australia, collapsed face first on the ground after being hit by a bouncer from 22-year-old Abbott during a Sheffield Shield game against New South Wales.
Hughes had been wearing a helmet but the ball struck him at the top of the neck, causing the injury.
He had CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the ground before being taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, where he had a 90-minute operation to relieve pressure on his brain.
Abbott and members of the Australian national team, including Clarke, visited Hughes in hospital.
But his death was confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
“It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away,” said Brukner.
“He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday.
“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.
“Cricket Australia kindly asks that the privacy of the Hughes family, players and staff be respected.”
Speaking at the news conference, Brukner explained that Hughes had died as a result of “vertebral artery dissection”.
He said the artery had been compressed, causing it to split and leading to a “massive bleed” into the brain.
Brukner said the injury was “freakish”, adding: “Vertebral artery dissection is incredibly rare. If you look in the literature, there is only 100 cases reported. There is only one previous example caused by a cricket ball.”
Dr Tony Grabs, who treated Hughes at St Vincent’s, said scans had shown that the stricken cricketer needed surgery quickly to help get the pressure down in the brain.
“He had extensive surgery to remove some of the skull from around his brain to help allow the brain to expand,” added Grabs.
However, his recovery did not go as hoped.
“Over a period of the first 24 to 48 hours, he did not make very much improvement and unfortunately, as a consequence of the injury, he died,” said Brukner.
The Australian flag was lowered to half-mast over the Sydney Cricket Ground where Hughes suffered the fatal injury. Flags were also lowered at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to Hughes, describing him as “a young man living out his dreams”.
“His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family. What happened has touched millions of Australians,” he said.
“For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration. He was loved, admired and respected by his team-mates and by legions of cricket fans.”
Australia coach Darren Lehmann tweeted: “RIP you little champ, we are all going to miss you! Love, prayers to all the Hughes family.” (BBC Sport)