A CRICKETER is fighting for his life in intensive care after being struck on the head by a ball during a match.
Despite wearing a helmet, Australian batsman Phil Hughes collapsed face first on to the Sydney Cricket Ground pitch, having been hit on the head after failing to connect with his bat after a fast ball - a ‘bouncer’ - was bowled at him by Sean Abbott.
Cricket Australia said on its official website that Hughes – who has had spells with Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire - had been “struck on the back, lower left side of the head”. It said no blame could be attached to Abbott.
Australia team doctor Peter Brukner has said there are likely to be no updates on the 25-year-old’s condition until tomorrow, with Hughes in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital on life support.
He said: “Phillip Hughes sustained a severe head injury while batting for South Australia at the SCG today. Phillip was treated on the ground by medical staff and transferred by ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital.
“He subsequently underwent surgery and remains in a critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.”
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The left-hander, who was on 63 for South Australia against New South Wales at the time, put a hand on his knee after being struck before falling face first to the ground. Play in the game was immediately suspended and the match later abandoned entirely.
He was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen on the boundary line after being carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
St Vincent’s Hospital spokesman David Faktor said: “He’s in ICU now, they’ve finished the surgery’s but he’s still in a critical condition. Now they’ll just monitor him.”
The South Australian Cricket Association’s high performance manager Tim Nielsen was in the crowd with Hughes’ mother and sister and went to St Vincent’s, along with Australia captain Michael Clarke.
A 26-Test international, Hughes’ last appearance for Australia came in a one-day international against Pakistan in October.
He memorably scored two hundreds in just his second Test match against South Africa, with his last five-day appearance coming against England at Lord’s last summer.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann wrote on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Phil and his family! He is a great fighter and a great young man!”
Hughes’ fellow Australia internationalist David Warner was in the field when the incident occurred and he rode alongside Hughes when he was wheeled off the field on a medicab.
He wrote on Twitter: “Thoughts are with my little mate Hughsy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy.”
The incident will serve as a reminder to the dangers facing batsmen against fast bowlers, despite the protective equipment available.
Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said: “His welfare is our highest priority.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board also sent a message of support, tweeting: “Thoughts with Phil Hughes and his family from all at ECB. Get well soon.”
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