SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died in a Sydney hospital on Thursday, two days after being struck by a ball that led to a “catastrophic” injury which caused “massive” bleeding to his brain and ultimately proved fatal.
The international batsman was struck on the neck by a short-pitched delivery when batting in a domestic match on Tuesday, with the force of the blow piercing his veterbral artery, medical staff said at St Vincent’s hospital.
“The head injury he suffered was catastrophic,” Tony Grabs, Director of Trauma at St Vincent’s, told reporters.
“He went to theatre and had extensive surgery to remove some of the skull around his brain to help allow the brain to expand so it wasn’t compressed.
“Over a period of the first 24-48 hours, as we know, he did not make very much improvement and unfortunately as a consequence of the injury he died.”
Governing body Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the 25-year-old had lost his fight for life with a tweet that cast a pall over a cricket-mad nation which is co-hosting the World Cup early next year.
“The word tragedy gets used too often in sport, but this freak accident is now real life tragedy,” CA chief executive James Sutherland told reporters in a shaky voice.
“Phillip has been taken away from us too soon.
“Without doubt he was a rising star whose best cricket was in front of him.
“He’ll be sadly missed and forever remembered.”
The Australian flag was lowered to half-mast over the Sydney Cricket Ground where Hughes suffered the horrific injury on Tuesday when batting for state side South Australia.
Flags were also lowered at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
After collapsing at the stadium, Hughes, who played 26 tests and 25 one-day internationals, was treated by the boundary before being rushed to hospital.
News of his condition was sparing and his critical condition remain unchanged for two days before his death.
The news brought an outpouring of grief on social media, with past and present players conveying their shock and passing on tributes.
Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott described Hughes as “a young man living out his dreams”.
“His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family,’ Abbott said in a statement.