Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes has died in hospital on Thursday after being struck by a cricket ball at the Sydney Football Ground on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old South Australian batsman was playing in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales when a bouncer, a cricket term for a ball that bounces up from the pitch to head or chest level, hit his head behind his left ear. Hughes, who was wearing a helmet, looked down for a few minutes before collapsing on his face.

The ball was bowled by Sean Abbott who has received counselling and has the Australian cricket community rallying behind him.

Hughes was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital in an ambulance where he was placed in an induced coma and underwent neurosurgery. Australian Team Doctor Peter Brukner announced the news of Hughes’ death in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

RIP Phillip Hughes 1988-2014

“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,” Brukner wrote. “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.”

Hughes grew up on a banana farm in Macksville on the New South Wales north coast before rising rapidly through the cricket ranks to make his NSW debut at 18. The next year he became the youngest cricketer to score a century, a score of 100 or more runs in a single innings by a batsman, in a Sheffield Shield final. At 20 he played his first Test cricket match for Australia in Durban, and became the youngest Australian to score a century in a Test.

Since then he has been in and out of the Test squad due to his unusual style, but he was always adjusting his game to push for a spot on the side. “I know where I stand, I’m just happy to be in the squad, I’m not sure what they’ll do. All you can do is just be ready,” Hughes said earlier this year, the ABC reported.

Hughes would have been hoping to again play for Australia in the first Test (a five-day match) against India next week, if injured captain Michael Clarke was pulled from the squad. There is now debate about whether the first of four Test matches should even go ahead.

The deadly incident that stole Hughes’ life, just days before his 26th birthday, is incredibly rare in cricket and has been described as a freak accident by other cricketers, who are expressing their grief on Twitter. As the summer cricket season is ramping up, the death of Hughes will rock Australia’s national game to its core.