Australian batsman Phil Hughes was in a critical condition in hospital Tuesday after being hit on the head by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match.
Looking to press his case for a recall to the Test side, the South Australian opener, who was wearing a helmet, had scored a composed 63 when he was hit by a ball from Sean Abbott while attempting a pull shot.
Television images showed him standing dazed, looking at his feet before crashing face-first onto the pitch. New South Wales players and the umpires quickly rushed to his side and called for help immediately.
“He is undergoing surgery,” said David Faktor, a spokesman for St Vincent’s Hospital, where Hughes was taken. “He has sustained a head injury, he is in a critical condition.”
A hospital statement later said Hughes was out of surgery but remained in critical condition in intensive care. Reports said he was in an induced coma and being treated to relieve pressure on his brain from bleeding.
Tim Nielsen from South Australia Cricket read out a statement from the Hughes family outside the hospital.
“The outcome of the surgery is unlikely to be known for the next 24-48 hours,” he said. “We would appreciate it if you would look after the family and friends and respect their privacy please.”
Cricket Australia said in a live match blog on its website that Hughes had “been leaving the short balls, had a go at this one, misjudged it and hit in the head. He blacked out and fell badly”.
Medical staff worked on the 25-year-old, reportedly including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, for more than 30 minutes before he was taken from the field ahead of a helicopter landing on the pitch.
“Clearly the priority is Phil’s health and we want to keep his family fully informed. We don’t have any updates on Phil’s health at the moment,” a Cricket NSW spokesman said.
South Australian cricket officials said a statement was expected to be issued shortly. Play was suspended in the game and then abandoned for the day.
Hughes has played 26 Tests but has never secured a regular place in the team, partly due to his perceived weakness against the short ball.
But with doubts over the fitness of captain Michael Clarke for the first Test against India next month in Brisbane, he was seen as a potential replacement.