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Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham has announced that Australia batsman Phillip Hughes’ family need their privacy following the tragic news of his death.
Hughes passed away at the age of 25 when he was hit on the side of the neck by a bouncer from New South Wales pace bowler Sean Abbott.
“Devastation is the word,” Botham told Sky Sports. “The reaction on social media is horrified, shocked and quite rightly – it’s a horrendous thing that has happened.
“No-one was prepared for it. Phillip Hughes was playing well, he was forcing his way back into the Australian side to play India in Brisbane in the first Test and suddenly this happens.
“There is really no more to say apart from the fact that we are all very saddened by it and I think the family should be left now to grieve.
“We’ll pay our tributes but at the end of the day it’s the family that are going through it now.”
Former England spinner Shaun Udal, who captained Hughes during his stint with Middlesex in 2009, described him as a “great human being who had so much to give in his life”.
“He was somebody who lightened up our dressing room at Middlesex at the time; he was an incredible talent,” Udal said. “He was a great human being who had so much to give in his life.
“We signed him at Middlesex as a 20-year-old – he was young, precocious and great fun around the dressing room. He was always happy, always upbeat.
“I’ve got a 10-year-old son – Phillip was the sort of guy you’d want your son to grow up to be. He was that nice a person.
“He was incredibly talented and he probably had another eight to 10 years of top-level cricket ahead of him. I’m devastated – I can’t believe he’s gone. The Australian dressing room must be in pieces. You could see the devastation etched on Michael Clarke’s face when he gave the statement on behalf of the family this morning.”
Ex-England pace bowler Dominic Cork also recalled playing alongside Hughes during his time with Hampshire in 2010.
“He was a cheeky chappy, a bubbly character in the changing room and obviously a talented cricketer – he was the youngest cricketer to get centuries in both innings for Australia,” Cork said. “So it’s a sad loss for the world of cricket. You know when you are playing international sport that there is always that risk, especially when the ball is being thrown at you at speeds of up to and in excess of 90mph.
“But I think that realistically you don’t think that something like this will happen so everybody here in Sri Lanka and all around the world is in disbelief that this has happened and hopefully we as a cricketing family can get through this.”