DUBAI - The touring Pakistan and New Zealand players joined the cricketing fraternity in expressing their concern about Australia batsman Phil Hughes, who is in critical condition after being struck on the head while batting during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sharjah Cricket Ground.

Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq told Gulf News: “Injuries have become part and parcel of the game and when such mishaps happen, one can only wish him best of luck. We will all pray for his recovery.” Pakistan opening batsman Ahmad Shehzad was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Corey Anderson on the second day of the first Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi this month and was diagnosed with a minor skull fracture.

Main Khan, manager and chief selector of the Pakistan team said: “We are very sad to hear about Hughes. We will all pray for his quick recovery and we all sincerely hope he comes back quickly. It is time manufacturers of helmets improve their qualities. Though all cricketers now bat with helmet, the impact of the hits are causing serious injuries — like it happened to Shehzad. It is also important that key areas of injuries are protected too.”

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said: “All our thoughts are with Hughes and his family. It is a tragic circumstance and we hope that the best result happens and he come out of it and make a full comeback into the game.”

Commenting on the safety of helmets, he said: “Though this delivery to Hughes missed the helmet, the game we play is dangerous. It is not often this happens but it does remind you that it is a tough game we play as well. We can only hope that it doesn’t happen very often. Yes, we had seen in this series (Shehzad being hit) and although we want to play the game hard we don’t want to see people get hit. We wish Hughes speedy recovery.” Hughes had played in a One-day International against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last month.

Outpouring of support for stricken 'Hughesy': Top cricketers from around the world united in their support for Phil Hughes on Tuesday after a ball to the head left the Australian batsman in critical condition in hospital. Australia coach Darren Lehmann was among the first to tweet his support as social media was inundated with messages, many tagged #ThoughtsWithHughesy. The 25-year-old international underwent emergency surgery and was in intensive care after being airlifted from Sydney Cricket Ground. "Our thoughts and prayers are with phil and his family! He is a great fighter and a great young man!" Lehmann wrote.

The South Australia opener was knocked cold by a short ball, or bouncer, from New South Wales fast bowler Sean Abbott after compiling 63 in a domestic Sheffield Shield game. Australia captain Michael Clarke reportedly rushed to Hughes' side at hospital while Test team-mate David Warner was with him during his initial treatment on the field.

"Thoughts are with my little mate Hughsy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy," Warner tweeted later. Australian legends Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist also offered their support along with current fast bowler Mitchell Johnson. "He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this," tweeted Johnson, a feared exponent of the short ball.

Cricket stars from abroad also sent their best wishes including Ian Botham and his fellow former England captain Michael Vaughn, who called it "devastating news". Virat Kohli, who will captain India in the Test series against Australia starting next month, wrote: "Thoughts and prayers with Phil Hughes all the way. Fight it out mate. You are a top man. All the strength goes out to you and your family."

Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and retired Indian batsman VVS Laxman also sent messages for Hughes, along with several current players of England, Australia's arch-rivals. "Awful news about Phil Hughes. Sickening to hear. Praying for him and his family," wrote England fast bowler James Anderson.