The reaction has been typical of a sport its fans believe is unlike any other team sport: one which is characterized by earthy values of fair play, sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.
The cricket world united as one today as everyone from fans and cricket writers to current and past players and administrators were left heartbroken at the loss of one of its sons and brothers: Australian batsman Philip Hughes, who passed away in a Sydney hospital, two days after being hit by a ball during a first class game at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 25-year-old had been in an induced come for two days after being struck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a domestic encounter.
He had needed emergency treatment before being rushed to hospital and hopes had been high that Hughes would survive but experts later said the injuries were catastrophic: the ball hitting a major artery which split open forcing blood into the brain cavity.
As the swelling grew, doctors were forced to remove parts of his skull to ease the congestion but the damage had already been done.
Doctors described it as a “freakish accident”.
Hughes’ death has shocked his cricket-loving country and cricket’s remarkably tight-knit global fraternity.
Thousands of miles away from Sydney, the MCC flag at the Home Of Cricket flew at half mast as at stadiums around the world.
The Third Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Dubai was suspended as news of Hughes’ death broke. Pakistan team manager Moin Khan said the players were too shocked to take the field.
In Australia, a two-day tour game involving India, who are currently on tour Down Under, was cancelled.
Thousands of Twitter messages poured in from players, fans, coaches, clubs and journalists.
Many cricketers also rallied around Sean Abbott calling for people to hold the devastated fast bowler in their prayers too.
The cricket world’s grief at Hughes’ parting was partly due to the young player’s popularity and his sheer love for the game.
Short of stature, Hughes nonetheless was a true blue grinder, in the same mould as the likes of Alan Border and Sunil Gavaskar: doughty, tough and determined.
He made his first-class debut at 18 and was picked for the Australian team at just 20, centuries in each innings in just his second Test, against South Africa.
From his 26 tests, he scored 1,535 runs at an average of 32.65, with three centuries.
He has also scored two one-day hundreds and seemed certain to be part of the Australian team that will co-host next year’s World Cup.
What the Cricket world said:
Pakistani fast-bowling legend Wasim Akram:
“On behalf of Pakistan, a cricket-loving country, we send deepest condolences to Phillip Hughes’ family, Australia and all affected by this tragedy”.
South African great Jacques Kallis:
“Woke up to the news of Phil Hughes passing away. RIP buddy. Thoughts and prayers to friends and family. What a sad day.”
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla:
“Such sad news to wake up to. My deepest most sincere condolences to Phil Hughes’s family and friends”.
India batsman Virat Kohli:
“Shocked and saddened by the news of Phil Hughes. Horrible day for cricket. RIP Phil and may your family gain the strength to cope”.
Sri Lankan champion Kumar Sangakkara:
“RIP Phil. Your life tho too brief has touched and inspired so many. You will be sorely missed. Our prayers are for you and your family.”
Australia great Adam Gilchrist:
“May those footprints in the sand now support another young man in need. #SeanAbbott”.
Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardena:
“Just heard the worst news possible..our thoughts & prayers are with Phil, his family & friends. RIP Phil Hughes!!”
England great Ian Botham: “A very sad day for the world of cricket. So sorry for Phillip Hughes and his family. Spare a thought for Sean Abbott.”
Former England batsman and coach David Lloyd: “Just heard the awful news …Phil Hughes, a young man with his life taken away doing the thing he loved R.I.P”
South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn: “Totally saddened by the passing of our cricket brother and friend Phil Hughes. Terrible loss! Deepest condolences 2 his family! #RIPHughes”
Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi: “My heartfelt condolences to the family of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes on the sad demise.”
West Indies batsman Chris Gayle: “Really Sad news to hear this morning. RIP philip Hughes. Condolences to his family – you will be missed.”
Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor: “Totally blown away and deeply saddened to hear of Phil Hughes passing. Thoughts are with his family and team mates.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “I just cannot believe it…#RIP’
Sachin Tendulkar: “Shocked to hear about Phil. Sad day for cricket. Deepest condolences to family, friends and well-wishers. RIP”.
Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle: “Just simply one of the saddest days in cricket. Our beautiful game, which gives more joy than anything else, is in grief #RIPPhillipHughes”
Australian legend Shane Warne: “Just an absolute tragedy that Hughesy is no longer with us. He was such an awesome young man, RIP buddy, shattered…”
England fast bowler Stuart Broad: “Just can’t believe it, heartbreaking stuff. RIP Phil Hughes.”
Former England women’s cricketer and commentator Isa Guha: “Devastating news – thoughts with all those that were close to him. Very sad for cricket. Still can’t quite believe it.”
Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar: “Phil Hughes Rest in Peace. Sean Abbott Live in Peace.”
Actor Rahul Bose: “Let us resolve to stand by Sean Abbott too, at this time. It’s a sport and he mustn’t blame himself for what happened. #RIPPhilHughes”
Journalist Piers Morgan: “Spent over 40 years watching & playing cricket. This is the saddest of days for everyone who loves the game. #RIPPhillipHughes