Sport Cricket Abbott ‘holding up well’ after Hughes tragedy
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Abbott ‘holding up well’ after Hughes tragedy

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Australian cricket officials say they have been heartened by Sean Abbott’s state of mind in the wake of Phillip Hughes’ death.

There were serious concerns for the mental well-being of the 22-year-old NSW paceman who delivered the ball that struck Hughes on the back of the neck and resulted in his death.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said considering the circumstances, Abbott was holding up well.

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“I think it’s been fantastic the way in which people have shown concern for Sean,” Sutherland said.

“Sean’s holding up really well. I had a chat to him last night and I was incredibly impressed by the way he was holding himself and his maturity.

“But the point is this not a moment-in-time thing, this is a grieving process that will affect people in different ways.

“What we will do and the relevant experts will do is provide Sean with the relevant support he needs.”

Abbott visited Hughes at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital over the course of the last 48 hours of the former Test opener’s life.

He was also one of an estimated 200 players, friends and officials who gathered at the SCG to celebrate Hughes’ life on Thursday night.

Former Test fast bowler player Stuart Clark said he’d spent time with Abbott on Thursday night.

The 22-year-old had a naturally quiet temperament but appeared okay, with at least three supporters always around him, Clark said.

“(But) I think it will be the hardest for him when it’s quiet and there’s nothing happening,” he told Sky Sports Radio.

Greg and Virginia Hughes
Greg and Virginia Hughes leave St Vincent’s Hospital. Photo: Getty

“When he’s sitting at home at night before he goes to bed – that’s, I think, when the thoughts will start recurring in his mind.”

Fellow Test veteran Jason Gillespie said Abbott’s personal and professional life had been rocked by an unprecedented tragedy.

“That lad is absolutely shaken and broken at the moment,” he told Fox Sports.

While the cricket fraternity had rallied around the young bowler, former Australian captain Mark Taylor said Abbott would be haunted by the tragic accident.

“He’s got no questions to answer but I’m sure he’ll be feeling some guilt today and probably will be for a long time,” he said.

“I really hope Sean can get over it and we one day see Sean back playing for NSW and maybe Australia.”

A bereaved silence has descended over Hughes’ home town of Macksville on the NSW mid north coast.

“Everyone is beside themselves. The streets are empty,” Nambucca Hotel bar manager Karl Spear said.

Hughes would have celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan great Waqar Younis has questioned where the tragedy leaves Abbott as a player.

“How will he continue?,” Waqar – one of the all-time great fast bowlers and now Pakistan’s coach – told AFP.

“He needs counselling, which I am sure must have started, and needs to stay calm.”

But former England fast bowler David Lawrence fears Abbott might never play again.

Lawrence, now 50, is well placed to understand Abbott’s situation. He bowled the ball that hit West Indies’ batsman Phil Simmons – who wasn’t wearing a helmet – on the head in a tour match.

Simmons made a full recovery but only after his heart stopped and he underwent emergency brain surgery.

“He collapsed. They rushed him to hospital, and were able to save his life and take a blood clot off his brain – and he subsequently went on to play again,” Lawrence told BBC World News.

“What gave me comfort was I was able to see Phil Simmons 48 hours after, and he was able to tell me it wasn’t my fault.”

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