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Cricket world mourns loss of Phillip Hughes

27 November 2014

Cricket united in grief as batsman passes away to prompt an outpouring of emotion that has transcended the sport

The cricket community worldwide is in mourning today following the death of Phillip Joel Hughes, aged 25.

Cricket Australia announced the news with a statement from team doctor Peter Brukner.

"It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away," Dr Brukner's statement read. "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."

Australia captain Michael Clarke, who was commended for his efforts in supporting the Hughes family since Tuesday's incident, read out a brief statement on behalf of parents Greg and Virginia and siblings Jason and Megan Hughes.

"We're devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother Phillip," Clarke read.

"It's been very a difficult few days and 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 family share that love of the game with him.

"We would like to thank all medical and nursing staff at St Vincent's Hospital and Cricket NSW medical staff for their great efforts with Phillip.

"We love you."

Clarke bowed his head momentarily to compose himself before exiting.

Hughes was struck on the neck while batting for South Australia during a Sheffield Shield game at the SCG on Tuesday. Dr Brukner explained the blow caused an extremely rare condition whereby one of the major arteries that delivered blood to the brain had split. Hughes underwent emergency surgery shortly after being rushed to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.

He had since been in an induced coma in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The Australian Cricketers' Association Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson said cricketers far and wide had been rocked by the "devastating event".

"Phillip Hughes died playing the sport that he loved amongst those who loved him," Nicholson said.

"His final shot typified his approach to the game - aggressive, positive and defiant. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family and the players."


Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said the word tragedy was used too often in sport, but this was a true tragedy.

"Phillip has been taken away from us to soon," Sutherland said. "It's an understatement to say we're completely devastated. The impact of Phillip's loss is enormous.

"He will forever be remembered as one of the elite few to have worn the baggy green cap, cap number 408.

"In the darkest hours, cricket puts its collective arms around the Hughes family. We offer our love and endless support."

More: International reaction to death of Phillip Hughes

The Australian team was due to assemble in Brisbane this weekend for next Thursday's first Test against India. Instead players from around the country flew into Sydney as the cricket family drew strength from the company of one another.

Hughes, who hailed from Macksville on the New South Wales mid north coast, was struck by a ball below the helmet while attempting to play a hook shot to a short-pitched delivery at 2.23pm Tuesday, the opening day of his team's match against NSW.

He was 63 not out at the time and pushing his case for a recall to the Australian Test team.

Cricket NSW Chief Executive Andrew Jones said: "Phillip is fondly remembered as a bright and cheeky young man with an infectious smile who emerged as an outstanding junior more than a decade ago. Like so many NSW and Australian players before him, Phillip moved to Sydney to play Grade Cricket and found a home at Western Suburbs.

"Phillip had already scored 26 first class centuries and his best cricket was ahead of him. It is unspeakably sad he cannot now achieve his potential in the game."

South Australian Cricket Association Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw said today "while everyone at SACA is hurting, the immediate thoughts of all staff and players are for Phillip’s family who were with him at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney".

"He was a very popular member of both the West End Redbacks and Adelaide Strikers cricket teams and a favourite of the SACA members and cricket fans across South Australia and Australia, and we are all struggling to come to terms with the news," Mr Bradshaw said.

"Loved by everyone, Phillip was a really terrific person and a remarkable talent. He had many friends and teammates here and interstate that will need support, and it is important we offer them our love and care as we all come to terms with this tragic event.

"The out-pouring of support for Phillip over the past few days has been overwhelming, and a testament to how much of an impact he had on so many people."

Play was immediately suspended at the SCG after Hughes's injury and the match later abandoned. On Wednesday, the two other Shield games that were in progress were also abandoned with all thoughts only for Hughes.

Thoughts are also with NSW Blues allrounder Sean Abbot who was bowling at the time of Hughes's injury. CA, the Australian Cricketers' Association and Cricket NSW have all been providing counselling and support to Abbott and the rest of the NSW team.

"He's someone that we're monitoring closely and know he's got a lot of support around him," ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson said Wednesday.

Dr Brukner said Abbott had visited St Vincent's Hospital and spent "significant" time with Clarke and Hughes's sister, Megan.

The South Australia players and staff are also receiving counselling, in particular Tom Cooper, who was at the non-striker's end at the time of Hughes's injury.

Cooper was Hughes's housemates in Adelaide, and turned 28 yesterday as the Redbacks squad returned home to be with their families.

Hughes made his first-class debut for NSW as an 18-year-old in November 2007 and played with the state for five seasons before moving to South Australia.

Upon receiving his Blues cap, he became the youngest NSW debutant since Clarke eight years earlier.

The left-handed opening batsman made his Test debut in February 2009 as a 20-year-old, and was presented with Baggy Green No.408 by then captain Ricky Ponting at The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

A week later, Hughes became the youngest batsman to score twin centuries in a Test, achieving the feat in just his second outing in Baggy Green, against South Africa in Durban. It is a record that still stands.

In 26 Tests, he scored 1,535 runs at 32.65 with three centuries and seven fifties. He played his final Test at Lord’s in London in July 2013.

Hughes also played 25 one-day internationals, and remains the only Australian to score a century on ODI debut.

His final ODI came last month against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, one week after he played his lone T20 international against the same opposition in Dubai.

Hughes scored 9,023 first-class runs, averaging 46.51 with 26 centuries, two of which were double hundreds.

In July, he added his name to the record books once more when he made an unbeaten 202 for Australia A against South Africa A, becoming the first Australian male to score a double century in a 50-overs-a-side match.

Hughes, who would have turned 26 on Sunday, was a hugely popular and respected figure within Australian cricket, renowned for his consummate professionalism and a hunger to succeed that was balanced alongside his unassuming nature and ready sense of humour.

He was also extremely close to his family – he is survived by his father Greg, mother Virginia, brother Jason and sister Megan - and he planned to return to the family property at Macksville at the conclusion of his cricket career to pursue his passion for cattle breeding.

The Macksville Ex Services Junior Cricket Club, Nambucca Valley Shire Council and Bowraville Rugby League put out a joint statement that read: "Macksville is a strong and close community. We are all shocked and saddened by what has happened to Phillip.

We are all very proud of Phillip’s achievements and will remember him fondly as a favourite son.

Phillip enjoyed returning home to spend time on the farm with his family and was always the warm unaffected country boy who was such a delight to be around.

About the Writer

 @Dave_Middleton
@Dave_Middleton

Dave Middleton is cricket.com.au's senior news editor. From Queensland, he spent 10 years in the UK where he wrote for The Times, The Sunday Times, the Guardian and The Telegraph.

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