Distraught players offered counselling for Hughes blow
Players from both South Australia and New South Wales have been offered counselling after the traumatic events that befell Phillip Hughes at the SCG.
The shuddering blow to the head that caused Hughes to collapse on the pitch and be taken to St Vincent's Hospital for emergency surgery left players from each side in a state of great distress, as they processed the sight of the 25-year-old lying motionless on the ground.
Raised in Macksville in country NSW, Hughes made his name with the Blues before moving to South Australia for the 2012-13 season, meaning all players knew him well. Sean Abbott, the young allrounder who delivered the bouncer that struck Hughes, had been part of numerous squads with him.
The Australia opening batsman David Warner had Hughes at the other end when he made his Test debut at the Gabba against New Zealand in 2011, and stayed rigidly at his side while the NSW team doctor John Orchard performed mouth to mouth in an effort to get Hughes breathing again.
The NSW captain Brad Haddin stood a few metres from the motorised stretcher with a pained look on his face, while the SA batsman Tom Cooper tenderly removed Hughes' batting pads. The South Australian coach Darren Berry and high performance manager Tim Nielsen did their best to comfort the Redbacks players.
These scenes made the decision to abandon the match - reached shortly after Hughes was taken by ambulance to hospital - not merely understandable but imperative. Alastair Nicholson, recently appointed the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, said: "We were obviously shocked to learn of the seriousness of the incident involving Phil. While we have faith that he's receiving the best available treatment, the situation will impact his family, friends, and those directly involved on the field.
"The ACA is therefore working closely with CA to arrange the appropriate counselling for those affected. Naturally our thoughts are with him and we wish him well from all the ACA members."
Warner, who only gave up his post beside Hughes shortly before he was moved into the ambulance, later tweeted: "Thoughts are with my little mate Hughesy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy."
Australia's captain Michael Clarke is a longtime friend of Hughes, and made calls to the SCG to ascertain which hospital he was being taken to before driving there to be by his side. The former NSW wicketkeeper Daniel Smith was among others who ventured to St Vincent's, where Hughes' sister and mother Virginia were also present, having come to the SCG to watch Hughes bat this day.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig