The world of sport has today been reeling from the shock death of one of its brightest stars. Australian cricketer Philip Hughes passed away in hospital only two days after suffering a blow to the neck. He sustained the injury whilst fending off a bouncer playing for South Australia in a Sheffield Shields match against New South Wales. The world of cricket has today been expressing their shock at how this could happen to a young person in the prime of his life, four days short of his 26th birthday. Doctors operating on Hughes at the St Vincent's hospital have described the injury as the result of a freak accident. Despite wearing a helmet, the delivery bowled by Sean Abbott struck him on the top of the neck. Onlookers described the sickening moment of the impact when he fell face down onto the turf. He was stretchered off and received CPR as he was rushed to hospital where tragically after 48 hours of intensive treatment and surgery, doctors were unable to save his life. He died from a huge haemorrhage to the brain. Only 100 such cases have ever been reported and only one other on the cricket field. So sudden and unexpected was his death that it has sent shockwaves that have transcended the world of sport.
People across the world recognise the tragic loss of a son to Gregg and Virginia Hughes, and of a brother to Megan and Jason Hughes. In a statement read on behalf of the family Australia captain Michael Clarke, who was ever present at Philip's bedside during his stay in hospital, revealed to the world the news that Philip had lost his fight and would be terribly missed: "We're devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother, Phillip. It's been a very difficult few days …Cricket was Phillip's life and we as a family shared that love of the game with him. … We love you" Tributes have been paid to Philip Hughes from right across the cricketing globe. People took to Twitter to share their condolences, ranging from Australia coach Darren Lehman,"RIP you little champ. We are going to miss you" to the world's most famous cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, with whom he played in the IPL,"Shocked to hear about Phil. Sad day for cricket." As well as playing for Australia and in India, Hughes also appeared in England, playing for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire. He was therefore able to bridge the intense rivalry between the two Ashes nations and was well liked and respected this side of the pond. He even shared a house with England's Nick Compton, who described him as "very, very close friend of mine. He was a cheeky, funny, positive guy .. and it breaks my heart." It is inconceivable in this day and age when issues of health and safety are of foremost concern that such an accident could have occurred. Commentators alluded to the era in the 70s when batsmen would be facing the fearsome West Indies pace team of Garner, Marshall and Holding wearing no more than a cap, yet nothing of this nature occurred then. Although protection has improved the fate of modern sportsmen, it is a sobering reminder that playing sport, even the demure game like cricket, is fraught with danger.
Only last month, the perils of the sportsman were brought home to us with the terrifying crash during the Japanese Grand Prix that nearly resulted in Jules Bianchi losing his life. Though he recently has emerged from his coma, we are yet to know the extent of the damage to his brain. Fellow racing driver Michael Schumacher's condition still remains critical following his skiing accident. Thoughts and prayers remain with the immediate family as they try to comprehend what has happened and how they are going to cope with their loss. Philip Hughes joins a list of sporting stars such as Ayrton Senna and Mark Vivian Foe who lost their lives while playing the sport they loved. From the reaction today, it is clear that one of the shining lights has gone out and heaven is missing a star. Philip Hughes, Rest In Peace.