Australian test cricketer Phillip Hughes died today, aged 25, after suffering a catastrophic brain injury during a match on Tuesday.
Cricket Australia’s team doctor Peter Brukner issued a statement saying the 25-year-old died after never regaining consciousness.
“It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away,” the statement read.
“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.”
Hughes had spent almost 48 hours on life support at St Vincents Hospital in Kings Cross after being struck behind his left ear by a short ball during a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and NSW.
The death was announced shortly after radio broadcaster Alan Jones had said, after visiting the cricketer’s bedside, that a major artery had been damaged when the ball fractured Hughes’s skull.
Hughes was struck just under his helmet by the bouncer from former teammate Sean Abbott when he was on 63, attempting to press his case for a Test recall. After the ball struck he looked unsteady on his feet, relying on his bat for balance, before collapsing forward onto the pitch.
The other players immediately called for medical assistance and placed Hughes in the recovery position. The NSW cricket team doctor, John Orchard twice applied CPR to Hughes and intubated him to assist breathing before the stricken cricketer rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital. Debate raged this morning about the delay in getting an ambulance to the SCG. Hughes did not reach St Vincents until almost 45 minutes after he was felled.
Hughes underwent immediate emergency surgery. Surgeons found an artery had been damaged. Although the bleeding was stopped it seems Hughes’s brain had suffered irreparable damage. He was placed in an induced coma and remained on life support.
Jones, a personal friend of Hughes, said after visiting the hospital that the young batsman’s injury was “much more serious than anyone had imagined”. He said Hughes was breathing only with the assistance of medical technology and that the impact of the ball had damaged a major artery to the brain.
A succession of family, teammates and friends had visited the cricketer overnight and through the morning.
Ambulance NSW has been criticised for arriving too late to save Phillip Hughes after he was injured on Tuesday. SCG sources have said an ambulance was called at 2:29pm, six minutes after Hughes was struck, but no ambulance arrived until 2:52pm after a second call was made. NSW Ambulance claims that its ambulances average just 7.65 minutes to reach patients when life is reported at risk.
– Lachlan Brunton and Louis Dillon
Top photo from Cricket Australia’s official website.