Players and politicians expressed shock and grounds fell silent on Thursday as the cricket world plunged into mourning after the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes.
Ripples from the demise of Hughes, two days after he was knocked unconscious by a cricket ball, quickly spread across the planet as the sport reeled from a rare death in competition.
Play was called off on the second day of the third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand in Sharjah, with some players described as distraught.
An image of a smiling Hughes adorned the electronic scoreboard in the empty stadium in the United Arab Emirates, where the 25-year-old recently played for Australia.
At the Adelaide Oval, home ground of Hughes’s South Australia team, the heart-wrenching message “Vale Phillip Hughes 1988-2014” was posted on an otherwise empty scoreboard.
Australian legend Adam Gilchrist summed up the shock at Hughes’s death with a tweet that read: “No no no no no. RIP Phillip Hughes.”
The batsman collapsed on field during a Sheffield Shield match in Sydney and underwent emergency surgery, but he never regained consciousness.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Hughes “was a young man living out his dreams. His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family.”
Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were among the Australian greats to send condolences along with national coach Darren Lehmann, who tweeted: “RIP you little champ, we are all going to miss you!”
And Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar led a wave of sympathy from abroad as he saluted Hughes, his former team-mate in the Indian Premier League.
“Shocked to hear about Phil. Sad day for cricket,” Tendulkar said.
– ‘Sickening’ –
Former South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who was forced to retire in 2012 after being hit in the eye by a bail while wicketkeeping, tweeted that he was “lost for words”.
International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson said: “All those who play, have played or are in any way connected to the game are devastated by the news.”
There was also sympathy for New South Wales paceman Sean Abbott, who bowled the ball that felled Hughes.
“How will he will continue? He is dealt a blow to his career and he needs counselling, which I am sure must have started, and needs to stay calm,” former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis told AFP.
Former England captain Andrew Strauss, who played alongside Hughes at Middlesex, led British tributes, describing the news as “sickening”.
“The most sickening aspect of all of this is that he was a guy in the best years of his life and that was extinguished out of the blue,” Strauss told Sky Sports News.
Middlesex Cricket Club announced that flags at Lord’s would be lowered in Hughes’s memory, while fans left flowers at the ground’s Grace Gates.
The MCC president, David Morgan, said: “Phillip was a fine cricketer and one who we will tragically never have the chance to see batting again here at the home of cricket.”
Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said his organisation extended its “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences” to Hughes’s friends and family.
England players past and present took to Twitter to express their shock at the news.
“Absolutely devastated to hear that Phil has passed away. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends,” wrote England batsman Ian Bell.
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen also spared a thought for Sean Abbott, writing: “NO NO NO NO NO! RIP, Hughsey #63notout. Sean Abbott – thinking about you too, mate!”