South Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes was pronounced dead during the early hours of Thursday, 27 November, 2014; a full two days after he had been struck on the the neck by a fierce bouncer from New South Wales seamer Sean Abbott during a domestic match in Sydney.
Hughes, who was set to earn his 27th Test cap the following week, was widely regarded as a player with his best years in front of him for the ‘Baggie Greens’, departing for the final time a few days prior to what would have been his 26th birthday.
The video footage is unsettling, albeit grainy, as the seemingly initially coherent Hughes appears to shake off the blow before collapsing head first into the turf, as opposition players rapidly wave medics towards the stricken batsman, who had hitherto been imperious on his way to an unbeaten 63.
Hughes made a memorable start to his international career as a fresh faced 20 year-old, terrorising an exceptional South African bowling attack with a series of outstanding performances that belied his novice status, to conclude the series with a couple of hundreds and an average in excess of 75.
As his star grew he was increasingly scrutinised and a flaw against the short ball meant that he received plenty of sweet chin music for the rest of his top level tenure, with England in particular using the half-trackers to dismiss him cheaply on numerous occasions.
Unfortunately he never fully conquered this glitch and was routinely peppered with short stuff, even in his final innings, with the conclusive delivery he faced sending shudders through the foundations of the cricketing and sporting landscape.
The official cause of death is vertebral artery dissection and is plainly a freak occurrence, with only 100 other cases reported, and only one previously relating to a cricket ball.
Phillip Joel Hughes’ demise will leave a dark cloud over the cricketing panorama for the foreseeable future. Widely regarded as one of the most engaging characters on the scene, he passed away when on the cusp of truly fulfilling the immense talent he was blessed with.