Phillip Hughes, an Australian cricketer, has died two days after he was struck in the head by a ball, according to a Cricket Australia official announcement.

Hughes, 25, had undergone emergency surgery and was in critical condition in a Sydney hospital after he was hit on the head by a "bouncer" in a domestic first-class cricket match on Tuesday.

Dr Peter Brukner, Cricket Australia's team doctor, said on Thursday that Hughes never regained consciousness after being struck behind his left ear by the bouncer.

"It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away," Dr Brukner said in a statement on Cricket Australia's website.

"He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends. As a cricket community, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillip's family and friends at this incredibly sad time."

The ball hit Hughes behind his left ear as he turned to try to hook the shot, rupturing an artery, Al Jazeera's Rahul Pathak said.

"This is an incredibly rare and horrible injury. There was a real sense that Hughes was on his way back to being at the top of his game, but that has very tragically been cut short."

Popular sportsman

Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from Sydney, said Hughes was a popular sportsman in the country.

"There was an outpouring of support for him after his injury. He is a well-known figure all over the world," he said.

Team-mates and friends took to Twitter to describe their loss.

Hughes was batting confidently on 63 in Tuesday's Sheffield Shield match when he was hit on the back, left side of the head by a bouncer from Sean Abbott, a New South Wales fast bowler.

Hughes, who was wearing a protective batting helmet, reeled back and then bent forward momentarily after the impact of the short-pitch delivery before falling to the ground.

He was treated and ventilated on the field by medical experts, including doctors who were flown by helicopter onto the Sydney Cricket Ground, before being taken to the nearby St Vincent's Hospital by ambulance.

The match between New South Wales, where Hughes was born and raised, and South Australia, where he used to play, was cancelled.

'Living his dream'

Tony Abbott, Australian prime minister, described Hughes as a "young man living out his dream," adding: "It's a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family.

"For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration."

Cricketers who died after being struck by ball
  • Darryn Randall, 32, was killed after being struck on the side of the head in 2013.
  • Zulfiqar Bhatti, 22, died after being struck on the chest while batting during a T20 tournament.
  • Raman Lamba, former India Test player, died after being struck on the head while fielding during a domestic match in Bangladesh in 1998.
  • Abdul Aziz died after he was hit over the heart in a 1959 Pakistan first-class match.
  • George Summers died after being hit on the head while batting at Lord's in 1870.

The head of New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance is due to be questioned by Jillian Skinner, the state's health minister, following conflicting reports of the emergency response time.

"Due to the conflicting information distributed today by NSW Ambulance regarding the response to the Sydney Cricket Ground, I will be meeting with NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen tomorrow to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident," Skinner said.

Hughes was the son of a banana farmer from a small town in New South Wales and was seen as a prodigious talent.

In 2009, during his second game for Australia, he became the youngest player in Test history to score two hundreds in the same match.

Hughes had played 26 Test matches for Australia since his debut in 2009 but was not been able to secure a regular spot in the starting line-up.

He was considered a strong contender to play in the first Test against India next week if injured skipper Michael Clarke was forced out by a lingering hamstring strain. It would be a return to the Test game after previously being dropped from the Australian team.

Before news of Hughes' death broke, former players for the Australian team had been calling for the Test match to be abandoned. 

Players also expressed support for Sean Abbott, the bowler whose short-pitched ball struck Hughes, causing the fatal head injury.

Abbott was seen rushing to Hughes' side in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and cradling the players' head.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies