Aussie cricketer dies after ball hit him
SYDNEY - Australian Test cricketer Phillip Hughes died yesterday from a rare injury after a sickening on-field blow, in a tragedy that sent shockwaves through the sporting world.
It was one of the highest-profile sporting fatalities since the death of three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna 20 years ago, and reopened a debate about protecting batsmen from potentially lethal blows.
Hughes, who was due to celebrate his 26th birthday this weekend, was hit at the base of the skull by a rising ball while batting for South Australia against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
He crumpled to the pitch unconscious after the blow, despite wearing a helmet. He underwent emergency surgery and had been in an induced coma since.
Australian team doctor Peter Brukner said Hughes died from an injury to the neck that caused a haemorrhage in the brain. The condition is very rare, with only one known incident as a result of a cricket ball. Despite the freak nature of the incident, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said he expected the safety of helmets to be re-examined.
"We're devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother, Phillip," the Hughes family said in a statement read out by a devastated Michael Clarke, Australia's cricket captain.
"It has been a very difficult few days. We appreciate all the support we have received from family, friends, players, Cricket Australia and the general public."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called it a tragedy, while retired Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar led a wave of sympathy from abroad. "Shocked to hear about Phil. Sad day for cricket," he said.
Australia has cancelled a two-day match against India which was to start today in Adelaide.