Phillip Joel Hughes (30 November 1988 – 27 November 2014) was an Australian Test and One Day International (ODI) cricketer who played domestic cricket for South Australia and Worcestershire.
He was a left-handed opening batsman who played for two seasons with New South Wales before making his Test debut in 2009 at the age of 20.
Hughes scored his first Test century in March 2009, aged 20, in his second Test match for Australia, opening the batting and hitting 115 in the first innings against South Africa in Durban. This made Hughes Australia’s youngest Test centurion since Doug Walters in 1965.
In the second innings of the same match, Hughes scored 160, becoming the youngest cricketer in history to score centuries in both innings of a Test match (Australia won the match by 175 runs).
On 11 January 2013, he became the first Australian batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score a century on debut, a feat which he achieved against Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
On 25 November 2014, Hughes was hit in the neck by a bouncer, during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, causing a vertebral artery dissection that led to a subarachnoid haemorrhage. The Australian team doctor, Peter Brukner, noted that only 100 such cases had ever been reported, with “only one case reported as a result of a cricket ball”.
Hughes was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, where he underwent surgery, was placed into an induced coma and was in intensive care in a critical condition. He died on 27 November, having never regained consciousness, three days before his 26th birthday.
Hughes was born in Macksville, New South Wales to father Greg, a banana farmer, and Italian mother, Virginia. Hughes was also a talented rugby league player who once played alongside Australia international Greg Inglis. He played his junior cricket for Macksville RSL Cricket Club, where he excelled so quickly that he was playing A-Grade at the age of 12 and in Representative Cricket he scored a century.
At the age of 17, Hughes moved from Macksville to Sydney to play for Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney Grade Cricket while he attended Homebush Boys High. He scored 141* on his grade debut and enjoyed a solid 2006–07 season scoring 752 runs at an average of 35.81 with a highest score of 142*. He represented Australia at the 2008 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He was coached at Triforce Sports Cricket Centre in Mortlake.
During the afternoon session of the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 25 November 2014, Hughes, batting at 63 not out, was struck in the neck by the ball after missing an attempted hook shot to a bouncer from New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott. Hughes was wearing a helmet, but the ball struck an unprotected area just below his left ear.
He collapsed before receiving mouth to mouth resuscitation and was subsequently taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, where he underwent surgery and was placed into an induced coma.
Hughes’ injury was a rare but described type of sport-related blunt cerebrovascular injury called a vertebral artery dissection which led to subarachnoid haemorrhage.
The match was immediately abandoned. The other two Shield games that were being played elsewhere in Australia were abandoned at the end of the day, with Cricket Australia stating that “Given how players across the country are feeling right now, it’s just not the day to be playing cricket.”
On the morning of 27 November 2014, Hughes died from his injuries, three days before his 26th birthday. Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke read a statement on behalf of Hughes’ family.
In May 2015, Cricket Australia announced that an independent review will be undertaken into Hughes’ death.