Macksville in mourning for cricketer Phillip Hughes, 25
UPDATE: Australian Test cricketer Phillip Hughes has died, surrounded by family and friends, after being struck by a bouncer that damaged a major artery in the back of his head.
Tributes have begun to flow from around the world for the much loved cricketer.
Australian Team Doctor Peter Brukner said in a statement: "It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away.
"He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday.
"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.
"Cricket Australia kindly asks that the privacy of the Hughes family, players and staff be respected."
Hughes would have turned 26 on Sunday.
A very distressed Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke read a statement on behalf of the family.
"We are devastated by the loss,'' the statement said.
"Cricket was Phillip's life and we as a family shared that love of the game with him.
"We would like to thank all the medical and nursing staff at St Vincent's Hospital and Cricket NSW medical staff for their great efforts with Phillip. We love you".
James Sutherland: "Hughesy, Huey or Hugh-dog ... was a hero to kids around the nation. Particularly in his home town of Macksville
Doctors said Hughes suffered a "massive bleed" after the ball compressed and split a major artery feeding blood into his brain.
The injury was incredibly rare with only about 100 documented cases.
There had only been one other case stemming from a cricket injury.
It was an injury which is "frequently fatal at the time", they said.
Hughes had been resuscitated and taken to hospital where surgery was carried out to reduce the pressure on his brain. After that he was taken back to intensive care and put into an induced coma.
Doctors discounted concerns about ambulance delays, pointing out that Hughes was already being treated at the grounds when the ambulance arrived.
Team doctor says Hughes like a little brother to Michael Clarke
Australian team doctor Peter Brukner says Hughes was like a "little brother" to captain Michael Clarke.
"Michael's efforts over the last 48 hours to support the family...
"I'm not sure they would have coped without Michael's assistance, and I was just enormously impressed at the work that he did and the genuine care and love that he gave to the Hughes family, and I think he deserves enormous credit."
An incredible cricketer from a young age
Hughes made his first-class debut for NSW at the age of 18.
After becoming the youngest batsman ever to make two centuries in the same test - achieving the feat away to South Africa as a 20-year-old in 2009 - some drew similarities between Hughes and the great Don Bradman.
Both hailed from the bush - Hughes from Macksville on the NSW north coast, Bradman from Bowral.
At the time, Hughes' average of 87.50 was almost in the realm of the Don's iconic 99.94.
But Hughes' on-field struggles saw him in and out of the test squad over the subsequent five years.
At one stage he was dropped after being dismissed four times in four innings.
The most recent of his 26 tests was against England in mid-2013.
No no no no no. RIP Phillip Hughes— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) November 27, 2014
Phil Hughes remembered as 'bright and cheeky young man
Cricket NSW Chief Executive Andrew Jones said: "Phillip is fondly remembered as a bright and cheeky young man with an infectious smile who emerged as an outstanding junior more than a decade ago.
"Like so many NSW and Australian players before him, Phillip moved to Sydney to play Grade Cricket and found a home at Western Suburbs.
Cricketers past & present around Australia mourn the immensely sad passing of Phillip Hughes pic.twitter.com/prma4h8Zoy— Aust Cricketers Assn (@ACA_Players) November 27, 2014
"Phillip had already scored 26 first class centuries and his best cricket was ahead of him.
"It is unspeakably sad he cannot now achieve his potential in the game."
The tragic news has been met with disbelief on Twitter with sports people, entertainers and fans from around the globe sharing their sadness - and thoughts and prayers for the family.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Phil Hughes. All our thoughts are with his family and friends pic.twitter.com/UB9wzuegZM— McGrath Foundation (@McGrathFdn) November 27, 2014
Coffs Coast Advocate journalist remembers Hughes' early days
Coffs Coast Advocate journalist Greg White said Hughes' death was "bloody heartbreaking", particularly for locals around Macksville where he grew up.
"It's just a terrible thing.''
White said Hughes was just as good as a rugby league player as a cricketer and could have gone on to do great things in either sport.
"I was there the day he was presented with the trophy for Group 2 JRL player of the year, standing with team mate Greg Inglis from Bowraville under-16s," White said
"Phil played half and Greg was 5/8.
(He) would have been a star in league if he'd gone that way.'
Hughes decided to pursue cricket, a good choice given his Grade 1 grand final win for Sawtell at the age of 14.
White said Hughes had remained a 'very humble' bloke who continued to mix with his friends when he was back in town.
All of Macksville will today be feeling for Hughes' family - his banana farmer father Greg, mother Virginia, brother Jason and sister Megan.
His brother Jason was well known in town also as a great sportsman.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott pays tribute to Phil Hughes
"Phillip Hughes was a young man living out his dreams,'' Mr Abbott said in a statement.
"His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family.
"What happened has touched millions of Australians.
Devastated at the loss of Phil Hughes. Still can't believe it. Thinking of Sean Abbott. Such a sad day in sport.— Guy Sebastian (@GuySebastian) November 27, 2014
"For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration.
"He was loved, admired and respected by his teammates and by legions of cricket fans.
"Australians' thoughts and prayers are with the Hughes family.''
The death of talented left-hander Hughes at the age of just 25 has shocked the nation and the sporting world.
EARLIER: THE first ambulance to reach critically ill batsman Phil Hughes at the Sydney Cricket Ground took 23 minutes to get there, despite the closest station being just 800 metres away.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Wednesday night confirmed she would be meeting with the state's ambulance commissioner to discuss conflict reports over the emergency response.
The Daily Telegraph reports that it was only after a second call was made for the unconscious 25-year-old Test player that another ambulance was dispatched.
It arrived at the ground in just seven minutes, well ahead of the first ambulance.
According to News Corp, NSW Ambulance first claimed it had not received an emergency call for 14 minutes despite photos and TV footage showing frantic players gesturing for a call to be made.
Hughes has spent a second night in an induced coma as family and friends maintain their bedside vigil at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital.
His skull was fractured after a bouncer struck him behind the ear in a spot not protected by his helmet during Tuesday's Sheffield Shield match.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner released a statement last night, referring to "conflicting information distributed by NSW Ambulance regarding [the] response to the Sydney Cricket Ground".
"I will be meeting with NSW Ambulance Commissioner Ray Creen to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident," Ms Skinner said.
"My thoughts remain with Phillip Hughes and his family, who I know are receiving the very best care at St Vincent's Hospital."
The ABC reported Australian captain Michael Clarke arrived early Thursday morning to be at Hughes's bedside after spending much of Wednesday at St Vincent's Hospital.